Chicago Bears fans are always rooting for their favorite team to win. But in this disappointing 2016 season, the opposite may be true.
The fans of the Chicago Bears have a predicament on their hands—and I don’t mean just deciding what jersey to wear to the game (if you are one of the few to actually attend the final few Bears games). No, I mean that Bears fans have to decide if they want the team that they love to win or lose.
Normally this would be a no-brainer. As a die-hard Bears fan, of course you want the team to win every game they play (heck, even the preseason games count in your heart). But this season, things are different.
The team, as everyone knows, is in a tailspin. And at 2-9, playoff hopes are officially dead. The final games of the regular season don’t really mean much other than watching some of Chicago’s young core (i.e. Jordan Howard, Leonard Floyd, etc.) develop. It’s always great to see your team win, but winning this season may actually cost the Bears in the future.
The Bears are rebuilding, so stockpiling as many top picks as they can is vital. The Cleveland Browns are a near-lock to get the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but the second pick is wide-open. The Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, and San Francisco 49ers (who just happen to be the Bears’ Week 13 opponent) are all alive for the pick. Obviously, picking second is better than picking third or fourth. So for these teams, every loss counts.
Tanking in football is much harder to do than in pro sports contemporaries, basketball or baseball. It’s extremely difficult for players to just “go through the motions” because most of them are playing for future contracts. In other words, it’s very hard for a team to lose on purpose. Too many jobs are on the line for such a thing to happen.
But as a Bears fan, maybe you should want the Bears to lose. What good does winning a meaningless game in December do? Sure, it can help improve the team’s morale (and maybe even yours), but in the long-run, it only hurts the team with their draft picks.
A perfect example of this was in 1997, when the Bears started off the season 1-10. After eleven games, it appeared that the team was on their way to the first pick in the upcoming draft. However, the team finished the last five games strong, going 3-2 in that span to finish the year at 4-12. Instead of picking first, the Bears picked fifth in the 1998 NFL Draft.
In the draft, the Indianapolis Colts would take someone named Peyton Manning with the first pick. The Bears would take Curtis Enis, a running back from Penn State, with the fifth pick. The rest is history; Manning would go on to have a Hall of Fame career, while Enis would last only three seasons in the league.
Now, I’m not telling you who to root for on Sundays the rest of the season. Trust me, I’m a die-hard Bears fan as well—and you can be sure I will be cheering for the team every step of the way. However, while watching the games, I will always have the 1998 Draft in the back of mind and realize that, while it’s great to win a game in December 2016, it win could come back to haunt the Bears franchise in the future.