I turned 7 in the course of the 1988 Bears season, which put me proper on the cusp of what I name a sports activities fan’s Acutely aware Sports activities Life.
The CSL begins when you perceive the broader context of the video games, groups and gamers who already have you ever fanatically obsessed. Earlier than the CSL, you get pumped up and journey the emotional waves, however you don’t perceive how a staff’s momentum suits into its better franchise story, or generally even how a staff suits into the league panorama.
You don’t actually perceive that an outdated participant who simply got here to your staff was a star earlier in his profession. You don’t actually perceive that whilst you’ve been ready seven years for a championship, your dad and mom have been ready 37 years and your grandparents have been ready 67 years.
Again to ‘88.
My CSL formation interval went from most likely 1989 (once I began filling within the blanks on the Cubs historical past due to our division title, and when the “will they or gained’t they?” speak across the Bulls started to construct) to 1991 (my first CSL championship and the discharge of Tecmo Tremendous Bowl), with my CSL finalization interval working via the top of 1992 (second Bulls championship and my first CSL unhealthy Bears season).
In 1988, proper on the cusp of that sports activities fan transformation, I used to be simply starting to know the Bears’ historical past, however principally that meant listening to my dad speak concerning the ‘63 championship and remembering Richie Petitbon’s interception.
By 1988, the Bears have been a sustained powerhouse, albeit with just one championship. We have been using a wave of 5 straight division crowns. We had the Tremendous Bowl Shuffle and the whole lot round ‘85. We had two different NFC championship video games. We entered the playoffs in ‘85, ‘86 and ‘87 ASSUMING we might win a title, and we went into the playoffs in ‘88 with nearly the identical feeling.
Right here’s the distinction although between a CSL Bears fan in 1988 and a pre-CSL Bears fan in 1988, comparable to yours really. A CSL Bears fan in 1988 knew what occurred within the pre-Ditka days. That they had the scars from Gibron and Dooley. They knew the horrors of 1-13. They appreciated ‘84-’88 greater than I ever may as a result of they understood it higher than I presumably may.
My mindset was simply as actual as theirs. However it was restricted. And that gave me a supernatural confidence concerning the Bears that was rooted in fact but bereft of context.
Okay then, let’s speak concerning the Lions.
In my thoughts, the Lions are one of many two saddest franchises within the NFL, together with the Browns. These are the one two groups that existed previous to the Tremendous Bowl to by no means play in a Tremendous Bowl. The Browns final gained an NFL championship in 1964, however it’s important to return even additional to see Detroit’s final NFL title.
That might be 1957, the franchise’s third title in six years, and all with Bears-castaway and Corridor of Famer Bobby Layne at quarterback, no much less.
Since 1957, Detroit’s greatest sustained run of success got here within the 1990s with Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, Chris Spielman and a number of common QBs. The Lions went to the playoffs six occasions between 1991 and 1999, peaking with an look within the 1991 NFC championship recreation.
The purpose is, any fan with any context is aware of the Lions are like a hermit alcoholic: they pose no hazard to anybody however themselves. Bears followers over the age of, I dunno, 15 most likely don’t sweat the Lions in any respect.
The issue is that younger Lions followers don’t have that context, and we are actually at risk of a brand new technology of Lions followers rising up believing that they “personal the Bears.”
Significantly, take a look at the smack speak Lions followers lay on Twitter and elsewhere concerning the Bears. Our WCG colleague Aaron Leming is duly preventing again, wanting like Neo when he realizes he can management the Matrix.
I will not communicate for everybody however Lions week is rapidly changing into rather more enjoyable than Packers week on right here.
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) November 7, 2018
You’re a Lions fan. Sit down.
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) October 12, 2018
Come again when the Lions win a playoff recreation this millennium.
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) October 12, 2018
But from the angle of Lions followers, Leming and others like us don’t seem like Neo on the finish of the Matrix. To them, we seem like Neo leaping off the roof on his first try and crashing to the bottom.
Are you able to blame them? They’re 9-1 in opposition to us since 2013. 9 and one. That’s 5 seasons! That’s the equal of seven-year-old Jack getting amped in ‘88 due to the whole lot since ‘84!
The pattern began bothering me getting into the primary Lions recreation of 2016. I wrote a bit right here referred to as “We have to speak concerning the Lions,” and certain sufficient the Bears went out and knocked off Detroit by three factors. I believed it was one thing to construct on. As an alternative it was a blip in a hideous chart.
Significantly, take a look at this insanity:
The non-head-to-head image is tough too. Since our final playoff look in 2010, the Lions have the sting over us in wins (60-50), playoff seasons (3-0), profitable seasons (4-1) and 10-win seasons (2-1).
Oh, and right here’s the worst one.
Final place finishes, NFC North, since 2011:
That’s proper: we’re the NFC North’s most frequent cellar-dweller since 2011. And with no NFC North staff reaching the Tremendous Bowl in that point, a pre-CSL Lions fan truly thinks he/she roots for a WINNER.
It’s sufficient to make you sick.
And that’s why I’m stoked for Sunday.
Top-of-the-line experiences as a sports activities fan is seeing a younger, hungry, momentum-shifting staff come alongside and begin flipping miserable traits like an Othello board. Clearly there are massive traits like profitable our first Tremendous Bowl since 1985, reaching our first postseason since 2010 and bagging our first profitable report since 2012.
Then there are the seemingly smaller but in some ways extra private traits that talk to the bigger expertise of fandom. A kind of traits is getting the Rodgers monkey off our backs. That’s nonetheless to come back.
One other is digging ourselves out of this embarrassing Lions rut.
The Lions downside is actual. The change begins Sunday.
To my fellow CSL Bears followers, your smiles are coming.
Jack M Silverstein is Windy Metropolis Gridiron’s Bears historian, and creator of “How The GOAT Was Constructed: 6 Life Classes From the 1996 Chicago Bulls.” He’s the proprietor of Chicago sports activities historical past Instagram “A Shot on Ehlo.” Say hey at @readjack.