Already Wednesday in this long and edgy week of anticipation. I believe the media descends on Chicago today for the annual NFC Championship media day, an event I remember taking place as far back as 1988 when the 49ers visited the Bears.
As I’m sure I’ll write on Friday, I’ve never hoped the Bears win a game more than this one-ever. No other game in their history is close. I’m letting this long week take its time getting over, because when 2 p.m. Sunday arrives, we’ll be a few short hours from victory or the beginning of a long offseason. I am both imagining how sweet a win would be and how disappointed I will be if the Bears lose. However, a Bears win will not define my life, and a Bears loss will not take away any of the blessings I have, so life will go on either way. Should the Bears win, I will not gloat, and if they lose I plan on being a good sport about the loss.
One thing that would help me get through a loss will be knowing that the players and coaches will take it much harder than I will. Obviously no matter how badly I want the Bears to win, in reality I can do nothing about it. But the players and coaches can. So this got me thinking.
Of course I know nothing about playing professional sports, and I know nothing about how much psychology comes into play on the field, whether the players’ mindset has any effect on what they do. But could the fact that the Bears have an older team across the board-a team that went to the Super Bowl four years ago and lost it, make them more cognizant of the fact that should they lose Sunday, in all liklihood this is the last shot of their career at winning a championship? The core of the Bears’ team: Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman, Chris Harris, Olin Kreutz, Roberto Garza, Devin Hester, Danieal Manning were all there in Miami in February 2007 and know what it feels like to lose the chance of winning the Super Bowl. They may have thought then that they’d be back and have another shot, but now they’d be crazy to think that. Even if I hope that if they lose, they can come back and take another crack at it next year.
But next year, we all know, there is absolutely no way they stay completely healthy the whole season and have as many breaks as they received in 2010.
Yes, some of the Packers were around when they lost to the Giants in the 2007 NFC Championship at Lambeau. But this Packers team has a completely revamped defense, many more young players, and a different starting quarterback. I don’t think the sting of that loss is resonating as heavily as the Bears’ Super Bowl loss is with them. Just my opinion.
So I certainly hope the Bears’ knowledge that it is make or break this year helps their cause on Sunday. If not, at least I know there are 100 or so people (the Bears’ players, coaches, staff) that will feel the pain far more than I.