I haven't been able to write a post about the Bears-Packers game all week because I've been worked up. I'm caught in the emotion and intensity of the rivalry. Sunday's game will not disappoint. The teams know each other too well. Expect a tough, physical, almost painful to watch game.
I grew up on watching the great Bears teams of the 80s, the 85 team and Walter Payton. Like most die-hard fans, I have a clear definition of what this rivalry means. I remember Walter Payton getting driven into the bench, an unsuspecting Matt Suhey get leveled, Jim McMahon getting body slammed.
I remember Don Majkowski leading the Packers to victory after an illegal forward pass and Brett Favre's Halloween game, not to mention the entire decade of the 90s when the Bears were whipping boys for the Brett Favre-led Packers teams.
I also remember William "The Refrigerator" Perry bowling into the endzone, Bryan Robinson blocking a field goal in the Walter Payton game and Brett Favre being shut out for the first time in his career.
This Sunday, the rivalry comes around full circle, 70 years in the making but for most of us, this is a culmination of hatred and disdain for each other over the past 30 years. The players of both teams don't hate each other as this did in years past, but they know the importance of the rivalry and what it means for t heir hometown. Us fans, the 4th Phase and the Cheeseheads fuel the fire.
Neither team has been dominant at the same time. It's either when the Bears are good, the Packers are bad and vice versa. In the past couple years, with the Favre declining, the changing of the guard with Aaron Rodgers, and the Bears trading for Jay Cutler, we all knew this was coming - a playoff matchup between bitter rivals.
Not only is this a playoff game... the winner takes home the George Stanley Halas Trophy with a chance to take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy, both trophies named after the teams' respective founders and the league's most iconic coaches. It's doesn't get bigger than this.
This game is so big, it's the biggest sporting event in Chicago. Period. Although the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory and the White Sox's World Series win were both far greater accomplishments, the Bears-Packers game for the NFC Championship stirs the emotions of the city. As the Bears' marketing campaign goes... "One City. One Team. Not everyone is a Blackhawks fan. Same thing goes with the White Sox.
The only other sporting event that can be bigger than this game is a Cubs World Series and even bigger than that a Cubs-White Sox World Series... and this coming from a White Sox fan.
Lovie Smith made it clear when he was first hired. He wants to beat the Packers. It's always been one of his goals. This past offseason, Lovie Smith said he wanted to bring the Monsters of the Midway-brand of football back to Chicago. The Monsters of the Midways first came about in the 1940s. 1941 was the last time Bears faced the Packers in the playoffs, winning the game 33-14. In 1985 it was popularized by the greatest team in history. Now Lovie and his Bears have the chance to be mentioned in this elite group.