Can a few days spent at Green Bay Packers training camp be enough to win over a die-hard Chicago Bears fan? Apparently, yes.
I’m driving north on Interstate 43, about an hour outside of Chicago, fully expecting my car’s navigation system to rebel at any moment.
“Make a U-turn,” it will say. “Exit promptly. … You’re going THERE? Are you flippin’ crazy?”
Catch the Chicago Bears as they host the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 29 at 12 p.m. CST. The game will air on Fox.
“There” is Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers — hence the confusion. Packers fans travel east from Chippewa Falls, south from Eagle River and west from Kewaunee, Wis. They do not — repeat DO NOT — come north from Chicago, for that is Bears country. And what reason do devoted Bears fans like myself have to visit Green Bay anyway, besides that one day a year when the Bears play at Lambeau? We’d prefer to spend the remaining 364 days in our city, mocking our neighbors to the north as a bunch of beer-swilling, mozzarella-curd-eating, ice-fishing dairy farmers who show allegiance to their team by wearing foam cheese wedges on their heads.
Problem is, the cheeseheads and the football team they worship have had our number for years. True, we eked out a 27-20 victory last month against an injury-riddled Packers team. But since 2001, the NFL’s oldest rivalry is 17-9 (including one Packers playoff win) in favor of the green and gold. While Chicago changes quarterbacks more often than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends, the Packers have needed only Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers (injured in the aforementioned Bears win) to shred whatever defense we dare to mount. Coach Ditka, “Refrigerator” Perry and “Sweetness” Payton will live in Chicago lore, but none could help us on Jan. 23, 2011, when Green Bay sauntered onto Soldier Field and left with the NFC Championship trophy. That hurt. Badly.
And the worst part? Their fans are so darn … nice when they beat us. They don’t hurl profanities our way, they don’t say horrible things about our girlfriends, they don’t mock our accents. Bears fans do all of that, often in the same sentence. After a victory, the Packers faithful merely zip up their snowmobile suits, wish us better luck next year and offer up a conciliatory bratwurst.
I hate them.