Bears-Packers: Fans say it’s the biggest game ever
The Green Bay Packers are headed to town for the NFC
championship game and Chicago Bears fans are starting to become,
well, a bit unbearable.
Turn on the radio in Chicago and you’ll hear no shortage of
jokes about Packers fans, many of which have something to do with
low intelligence. There’s been plenty of laughs over a Green Bay
newspaper headline that read ”On To Chicaco.” Many more center on
the dietary habits of fans north of the ”Cheddar Curtain,” like
What do you call a 400-pound Packer fan? Anorexic.
All of this sniping, fun or otherwise, makes sense since the
NFL’s oldest rivalry has had 92 years to simmer. Vince Lombardi,
Don Hutson, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Bronko Nagurski, Dick Butkus,
Mike Ditka and Walter Payton – all of those names and more add to
the rich history, but so does the relationship between the loyal
fans in the two states.
John Cochara has been hearing from his so-called friends who
decided he was celebrating a Packers win over the Bears a little
too much in 1995 and duct-taped him to a stop sign.
”They’re saying, ‘You better watch out, there are a lot of stop
signs out there,”’ said Cochara, whose punishment outside a bar
just south of the Wisconsin-Illinois state line included a sign
over his head that read ”Packer Fan.”
The Super Bowl Shuffle video by the 1985-86 Bears is getting
tens of thousands of fresh clicks on YouTube. At least one Chicago
TV station got texts imploring them to ask Packers fans to swear
off cheese or, at least cheeseheads, cheese ties and, honestly,
cheese bras. A sign outside the Crystal Lake Rib House not far from
the Wisconsin line warns that prices for Packers fans are twice the
”They say, ‘We really don’t have to pay double, do we?”’ said
owner Dave Faccone, who insists it’s a joke. Still, some Bears fans
have chimed in.
”I got a text saying, ‘You big troublemaker, charging them
double. It should be triple,”’ he said.
On the other side of the state line, Packers fan Frank Emmert
Jr. of Superior, Wis., reminisced this week about the time he
survived a small plane crash in 1995 thanks to the foam cheesehead
he put over his face seconds before impact.
”The FAA credited it, not me,” said Emmert, 52.
Mike Pyle, who played center for the Bears for nine years,
including the 1963 championship season, recalled how his coach and
owner of the Bears, George Halas, brought a message over to Packers
coach Vince Lombardi before a game.
”He went to the locker room door at Lambeau and said, ‘We’re
going to whip your (expletive),”’ said Pyle, 71.
Yet, with all that bad blood all those years, you’d have to go
back to the week after the attack on Pearl Harbor to find the last
time the Bears and Packers met in a playoff game. (The Bears won on
their way to the championship).
This time around, the winner of Sunday’s showdown goes to the
Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium.
”There have been some highly hyped games that went splat, but
this, they’re playing for the Halas Trophy, to go to Dallas to win
the Lombardi Trophy,” said Marc Silverman, the co-host of a radio
show on ESPN 1000, Waddle and Silvy, with former Bears receiver Tom
Not that the Super Bowl seems to matter much: Packers fans said
beating the Bears at Soldier Field would be a wonderful cake, with
a Super Bowl victory serving as the frosting.
”There would be nothing sweeter than to watch the Packers take
that George Halas trophy at Soldier Field,” said John O’Neill,
whose outfit at Packers games is a green bishop’s costume and
mitre, with Lombardi’s face on it. He’s appropriately known as St.
It’s the same story in the birthplace of the Bears: Decatur,
”I can’t think of a bigger Bears game,” said 76-year-old
Charley May, whose family and the team have been intertwined since
his dad, Walter ”Red” May, took Halas up on an offer to play for
the Decatur Staleys. Halas later moved the team to Chicago and
changed its name.
”For guys who have followed the Bears all their life and truly
hate the Packers, yeah, this is their Super Bowl,” said Mark
Foster, 54, who plans to erect a 5-foot inflatable Bears helmet
outside his home in Lansing, south of Chicago. ”We can lose 50 to
nothing in the Super Bowl to Pittsburgh or the Jets, but if we beat
the Packers, who cares?”
Scott Wiese understands what Foster is talking about.
”The only thing I can compare it to is if the Cubs played the
Cardinals in Game 7 for the pennant,” said Wiese, 30, who grew up
in the Decatur area and now lives in St. Louis. ”It’s the biggest
game for me as a Bears fan my whole life, and that includes the
Don’t expect Wiese to do something crazy. Again.
It was Wiese who, before the Super Bowl in February 2007, vowed
in writing to change his name to Peyton Manning if the Indianapolis
Colts beat his Bears – which they did. He went to court to keep his
promise, but the judge tossed out his request.
As for the 44-year-old Cochara, he’s not about to stop rooting
for the Packers. But, he said, the bar where he was taped up after
he played ”We are the Champions” following that Packers win has
never been the same.
”Packers fans are scared about what happened,” he said.
Associated Press Writer Carrie Antlfinger contributed to this
report from Milwaukee.