It has been a long time since a Chicago-Green Bay game was a battle for a division title. We are blessed with such a game this weekend.
Given the rivalry between the Bears and the Packers, fans' emotions will run high Sunday when the two teams meet at Lambeau Field. Today I leave no doubt as to where allegiance lies, having been born and raised in Wisconsin.
I will root for the Chicago Bears. Always have and always will.
My loyalty to Chicago was never a large problem before this year. It never hampered my social life and bullies never targeted me in school because I cheered for the Bears instead of the Packers.
The reasons are simple enough. Chicago and Green Bay have never made the playoffs in the same year since I was born.
The two rivals have had winning seasons at the same time only twice in that span.
In recent years, when the Bears played poorly, most people just felt sorry for me. When Chicago dominated Green Bay in the mid-1980s, most kids did not care as much about football as I did (maybe because their Packers were amazingly mediocre).
The situation is different this season. Chicago sits in first place in the NFC Central at 9-2. Green Bay is a close second with an 8-3 record.
Similarly, the two teams stack up evenly since the day I was born. Chicago has compiled a 179-160 record in 21-plus seasons, while Green Bay has a record of 175 wins, 161 losses and three ties over the same period. Both teams have won the Super Bowl once.
With the teams so equal over the past two decades, you might ask why I chose the Bears.
My traditional defense growing up was to tell people that my dad was from Illinois. He liked the Bears growing up and obviously was a fan during the great 1985 Championship season that sealed my fate.
That explanation satisfied my playground critics, but my friends are harsher these days. The ridicule from Cheeseheads in my fantasy football league requires me to constantly defend my loyalty to the Bears. The trash talking before the first Chicago-Green Bay game this year was pretty intense.
In anticipation of this weekend's match-up, I went home Monday to pick up a Bears t-shirt my dad had bought me in Chicago. I told him I had been thinking about why I became a Bears fan. His answer caught me off guard.
\You always said you liked their colors,"" he told me.
Ouch. So much for my airtight case for Chicago, I thought.
But then I realized that the ""green and gold"" have always disgusted me. Whether the Bears fielded a good team or not, they always looked tough in navy blue. On the other hand, the Packers, even on their best days, dress like the contents of a used Kleenex.
Of course, that is not the only reason I chose the Bears over the Packers. My favorite player, Walter Payton, was Chicago's running back.
I remember when I dressed as Walter Payton for Halloween one year (my brother and I had matching Hutch-brand uniforms), and my friend went as a Packer. While I proudly sported number 34 on my chest, my buddy couldn't even tell me what player's jersey he was wearing. Poor sap.
I've learned my lesson about making predictions, so I am not going make any regarding Sunday's game. But rest assured, I will gladly lend a shoulder Monday morning for Cheeseheads to cry on.