Normally, I’m indifferent to media hype or the lack thereof, but the Brett Favre-like fawning over a talented, but thus-far unaccomplished malcontent — who forced a trade because he didn’t appreciate being suggested as a prospect for trade like any other normal NFL athlete — is really starting to grate, and this is coming from a die-hard Bear-fan. Hell, at least Favre won a Superbowl before the poll-jocking really got going.
I understand the old adage that defense wins games while offense sells tickets, and prior to the Cutler era, the Bears were largely overlooked because their offense has been historically offensive. The last time we had a decent QB was Jim McMahon back in the 80’s, and though he was largely hyped by the media, he wasn’t a primadonna. McMahon displayed that cocky, smash-mouth persona that can only come from a cold-weather, power-run team accustomed to earning every inch of real-estate in an “eff-you, pay me” manner.
(I should point out that QB Jim Harbaugh also acquitted himself nicely as a Bear from ‘87 to ‘94 before achieving greater heights with the Indianapolis Colts. In his prime, he was the poor-man’s Steve Young. The reason why folks overlook his efforts with the Bears is because during this stint he was handcuffed, scolded, and humiliated by Coach Mike Ditka with such frequency that he more often resembled an animal shelter rescue victim than an elite NFL athlete. I’ll also point out that between ‘89 and ‘92, Coach Ditka had reached the point in his coaching career where he probably should have been listening to Journey on the jukebox while carefully peeking out the diner window, scanning for potential hitmen gunning for him.)
I understand “Cutler-Mania”, but that doesn’t mean I like it. I mean, as a result of it, we get five primetime appearances this year. As a Bear-fan who was transplanted into a rain-soaked, latte-sipping, largely bandwagon-based Seattle Seahawk fanbase, I can appreciate the fruits of the hype (I’m in too crummy a location for Direct TV’s NFL Ticket.)
I get it, but dammit, while largely unsatisfied, I was at least content with our low-profile, quiet workman-like approach to football. If this Cutler deal turns into a bust under the glare of the national spotlight, even Detroit Lions fans will be making Bear-jokes and crackin-wise on our mammas. Hell, even Coach Lovie Smith appears to be slightly unnerved by this new primadonna hype, and for good reason.
Here’s one more reason why I find Cutler-Mania tough to swallow. I’m not a superstitious guy, except for when it comes to football, and where the neutral fan swings, so swings the mystical hand of fate. Think about it. For whatever reason, either you’re a die-hard Dallas Cowboy fan, or you hate their rotten guts (I align myself with the latter crowd.) We’ve all seen how fate has treated them recently, from Tony Romo’s playoff field goal fumble, to the Terrell Owens Saga. In baseball there’s the new-millennium New York Yankees, a multi-million dollar payroll of otherwise talented choke-artists. In Basketball there’s the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers, a team of future hall-of-fame free-agents selling their souls to the devil for one final shot at a ring. Sure they were talented individually, but karmic-wise, they might as well had been the Legion of Doom, led by Lex Luthor himself. How did those guys fare against the workmanlike team effort of the eventual NBA champ Detroit Pistons?
Remember when the 2001 New England Patriots were destiny’s darlings, with a nation of neutral fans gleefully aligning themselves with the no-name underdogs? On paper, the 2007 Pats were far superior to the 2001 team, but the 2001 team can call themselves World Champions, while the 2007 team went undefeated, except for the game that would have made them World Champions. Sure, call it resiliency and determination, but don’t dismiss a fickle karmic bounce or two.
So what does any of that have to do with the Bears? While the addition of Cutler (allegedly) swings our talent-level into the positive range, our team’s karmic-level is inversely affected. Neutral fans who would normally back the Bears and laud their hardnosed, and often futile attempts to make diamonds from coal, will undoubtedly root against us after Cutler’s baggage is repeatedly rehashed by the media… and that’s before Cutler starts with all the snarky on-field sneering and pouting that made me root against him so vehemently when he was a Bronco. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still giddy about our chances, but I’m calling on all die-hard Bear-fans everywhere to unite and help elderly women with their groceries. Donate generously to the charity of your choice. Buy a meal and a hot cup of cocoa for someone who looks like they could use it. Floss.
Do these things not just because they’re the right things to do or you’re trying to get into heaven. Do them because we’ll need all the help we can get to offset the negative energy brought about by Cutler’s media hype.