Administrative Note: This piece is presented without edit. Don’t care if there are spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Andrew is part of the DBB family now and it just made sense to send the words directly from him to you.
Growing up in Wisconsin I got asked how I became a Bears fan just about every other day. The answer I gave was always the same: “The Curse was passed on by my father.” The joke usually gets a chuckle, but it’s the truth. I’m a Bears fan because my dad is a Bears fan. I relate the Bears with my dad and on Tuesday morning, my dad passed away unexpectedly in my house.
I’m not going to bore anyone with the details. Cancer is cancer. It’s a bitch. Dad was diagnosed in early 2014. Everything seemed to be going great until a couple of months ago. It took a turn for the worse and last week we were told he had a few months. The doctor was wrong, he died six days later.
My dad was a football player and a tough SOB. At five-foot-three and 130 pounds, he played nose tackle at Lakeland College in 1975. He liked players who beat the odds. Players who might have been considered too small or too slow. He loved players like Tom Waddle, Mike Brown and Jim Flanagan.
Many of my memories growing up with Dad involved the Bears. Dan Hampton was his favorite player, Sweetness was a very close second. He used to always tell a story about how Danimal put a weight in his jock strap so he would weigh more at the NFL combine. He attended the famous Walter Payton Game, with Bryan Robinson blocking a field goal to win the game.
It upsets me that the last team my dad got to see complete a season was Trestman’s monstrosity. A team that went against everything he believed in. But I feel good that he got to see the team start heading in the right direction under John Fox. Fox was his kind of coach.
When I was at Soldier Field a few weeks ago, I got goose bumps when the team ran out onto the field to roars from the crowd. I immediately thought of Dad, who was in the hospital at the time. I watched the game from the same end zone I watched them in in 2001 when I watched them play the Packers with Dad and my brother.
The Bears play probably their most important game of the season this week. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter if they win or lose. To me, this game feels like what the Walter Payton Game felt like to so many. Dad was a Bear. He never put on the uniform, but I’ve always felt that my dad represented the things we loved about the Bears. He was a grinder and an overachiever. He was Brian Piccolo. He was Doug Buffone. He was Mike Ditka. He was George Halas. Dad had their spirit.
I don’t know what to expect from the Bears on Sunday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something crazy happened. Something ridiculous that you just can’t believe. And, if it does, I’ll know why.
Good by Dad. I love you. Go Bears.