Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne!
And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp! And surely I’ll be mine! And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, For auld lang syne!
Johnny Brogan is a bartender at the Copper Kettle, an Irish neighborhood bar in the Irish neighborhood of Sunnyside, Queens. “Brogy” is not what you’d call a healthy-looking man, measuring well under six feet from the soles of his worn down off-brand trainers to the tip of his meticulously-parted coif and three feet from the rear of his spine to the furthest reaches of his jolly pot. But every year, from January to April, this one-man cider receptacle gets off the drink. Not a drop. And when you ask him why, he responds with a phrase he should have trademarked, “Right for the system.”
There’s something noble about Brogy’s pious dedication to this annual ritual, whether it be medically astute or not. He believes, as all who engage in any cleanse or diet or purge believe, abstaining from the sauce over this period of time will help him live longer. He’s also Irish. And Catholic. So there’s the guilt-inspired penance factor at play. Brogy sins for nine months. He apologizes for three.
For most the beginning of a new year is a time for resolutions, a listing of actions one must take in the desperate name of self-improvement. I’m only gonna eat ribs on Fridays. I’m gonna buy an elliptical. I’m gonna read more Dickens novels, even Dombey and Son. The same can be said for every NFL franchise not in the postseason tournament. The beginning of a new year is an opportunity to make your team better. Get rid of that secondary coach not pulling his weight. Sign that blocking tight end from Pittsburgh who’ll sure up the power run game. Draft that kick returner out of Louisiana Tech who’ll flip field position and make the difference in those three-point divisional losses.
The Chicago Bears are celebrating New Year’s Eve Brogy-style. (Brogy style is also a Kettle option for wings half buffalo, half barbecue.) They are not seeking to make club improvements for the coming season in an attempt to get into the playoffs and compete for a championship. They are purging the sins of the previous season, the previous four months. They are attempting to dilute the poison in their bloodstream.
Because the 2014 Chicago Bears were not guilty of “not winning enough games” as George McCaskey repeated endlessly during his year end address to the media. The 2014 Chicago Bears had a contaminated bloodstream and the individual hoisting the hooch bottle to the organization’s mouth was head coach Marc Trestman. That’s why he’s gone, why his top lieutenant is gone and why the man who hired him is gone. Not because he didn’t beat the Packers but because he was was in charge of the most poisonous Chicago Bears locker room since the whole thing started in 1920.
91 year-old ladies don’t get “pissed off” by a 5-11 season. The Bears have had plenty of 5-11 seasons in Virginia McCaskey’s lifetime. They get pissed off when the most important entity in their life becomes a national embarrassment.
With the coming of the new year comes the promise of better days ahead. But also present is the opportunity to wash away the sins of yesteryear. Will the Bears be better than 5-11 next season? It doesn’t matter. Because the most important attribute of the 2015 Chicago Bears will be the fact that they’re not the 2014 Chicago Bears.