It was December 29th 2002.
I sat on a bar stool at the Boathouse in Belmar, New Jersey with a cold bottle of Coors Light in one hand and my head in the other. Over the course of the evening I had become the first fan in the history of the establishment to apologize to patrons. Not for my drunken behavior, mind you, but for my quarterback. Henry Burris had started for the 4-11 Chicago Bears that night against the Tampa Bay Bucs and worked his ass off to get the team to 4-12. Scrambling like a mental patient, four interceptions…etc. It was the saddest day I’d ever had as a Bears fan. Not because of the significance of the loss (there was none) but because I was embarrassed to love a club that started a guy this terrible at a position this important. Embarrassed to love the team I’d spent most of my life sneaking into shady Jersey sports bars to watch play.
In ten days, at that stadium in the city over there, those same Chicago Bears will place under center one of the best quarterbacks in the sport. Argue against that statement if you’d like but I don’t want to hear it. Why? Because Bears fans are ten days away from a season wherein they will never – not once in sixteen weeks – be out-manned at the quarterback spot. To most of us, that means the world. To some of us, that is the world.
So with the next game played by the Chicago Bears being a real game, I’m taking a moment to ponder what has been and what may be. To remember the interceptions, fumbled snaps and unnecessary sacks while relishing the possibly-hoisted Lombardi trophies, prospective MVP awards and Prime Cutler steakhouses. This season will be different, no matter what the final result, because of #6. Because of Jay Cutler. Every one of us will remember this season because this season will be his first.
And I, for one, can’t wait. Lace em up, kids. It’s Packer Week.