Well with my World Cup postpartum soon to be relinquished by a trip to Red Bull Arena to see visiting Spurs on Thursday July 22nd, I can now move on to the American version of this game called football. Move on to a little underachieving ballclub in the heart of the Midwest. Move on to Saturday night hopes and dreams washed down with cool glasses of Sunday afternoon reality. The Chicago Bears will return to training camp in seventeen days and officially launch the 2010 campaign. And it's a campaign that will define not only the tenures of Ted Phillips, Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith but also set the stage for the next half-decade of football in America's greatest football city. (Shut up, Pittsburgh.)
The position battles have been discussed ad nauseum and are currently being analyzed as in-depth as possible by Brad Biggs in the Trib. The pressure on the staff and management has been hashed out in newspapers, blogs and on that most-trustworthy of four-letter cable networks. The Chicago Bears, in seventeen days, exit the land of the hypotheticals and enter Bill Parcells' "psychology of results". In seventeen days, performance is what matters. Will Mark Anderson earn the starting end spot? Will Matt Forte hold off Chester Taylor? Will Jay Cutler adapt to Mike Martz' system? Will the Bears have a pair of viable starting safeties on the roster? And those are just the camp questions.
Two months from now the Detroit Lions will enter Soldier Field to open the season, giving Da Bears their first must-win of 2010. Yes, it is a must-win. Teams that want to go to the postseason don't lose to the Detroit Lions at home. Hell, teams that want to win a chamionship don't lose to the Detroit Lions in a schoolyard brawl. Not yet, anyway. And every loss - especially early in the season - will be met with stinging criticisms from local media, boos from desperate fans and speculation about Bill Cowher's real estate interests in the greater Chicagoland area.
And damn I'm glad. I'm tired of the media posturing and coaching shifts. I'm tired of hearing how good this roster is and how primed-for-a-title the Chicago Bears are. I'm ready to sit on the third stool from the end at Josie Woods and look up at the television screen. I'm ready to see what the Chicago Bears are against actual NFL competition. I'm ready to watch Lovie Smith coach with his life on the line. And more than any of that...
I'm ready to win a Super Bowl.