I feel nothing toward the Chicago Bears, and I don't feel fine
“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
“In fact,” said Mustapha Mond, “you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.”
“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.” — Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Chicago Bears are a comfortable experience in their present form. And that’s terrifying to me.
Consider: This supposedly professional football team is without its starting quarterback for at least the next two weeks with a hamstring injury (and said quarterback has built up such ill will with the fanbase that a conspiracy theory about the injury is out there. In truth, little about the play on which he was hurt suggests a leg issue, but who knows). Yet now, Bears fans have to deal with the clownery of Option B, Jimmy “Best Google Image Search” Clausen. The conflict of losing Cutler to destroy an already ominous Bears season is comical.
Clausen is not an NFL quarterback. This is going to be shown to the nation on Sunday when the frustrated 0–2 Seattle Seahawks make him their piñata, but I know this already. There will be no surprise. This movie is already spoiled.
That’s partly a good thing. It’s much better to know now that a season of rooting interest is toileted than to have to accept it around Week 7 or, worse, be teased late into some 8–8 purgatory. The knowing, though, is awfully, depressingly comfortable. This isn’t like being a Jacksonville Jaguars fan; their team actually has some budding talent they can at least hope will develop.
The Bears? Ha. Their 2015 first-round pick probably won’t see a snap this season. Their 2014 first-rounder got benched on Sunday during the debacle against the Arizona Cardinals. Their 2013 first-rounder is good but switched positions this year out of need. Their 2012 first-round pick is this guy:
... and of all their previous first-rounders, only Greg Olsen remains in the NFL. (And he’s on the Panthers.)
Matt Forte, bless his consistent soul, will be gone after this season. Alshon Jeffery entered the season hurt. Martellus Bennett will make catches and be cutely weird until his veteran-ness tires of the suck that will be this season.
I know all of this, and I’m comfortable with all of this.
The defense is a 3–4 for the first time, and it’s about as epically bad as the cruddy Tampa 2 Chicagoans had known for years. We’re talking a third consecutive year of being the opposite of the stock videos that national broadcasts go to of Butkus (who was on bad teams) and Singletary (who was maybe the fifth-best guy on the 1985 defense) and Urlacher (who never won anything). The Bears’ defense was second-worst in the league in points allowed the last two seasons and already has given up 79 points through two weeks of this one. The defensive coordinator of those two prior teams is now a defensive backs coach ... in college.
The defense will stay bad, so Clausen will have to chuck the ball more than a viewing audience deserves, and then so will Cutler when he comes back, and interceptions will happen, and smoking memes will fill Facebook, and Stephen A. Smith will kick him while he’s down and say Cutler deserves it.
And I’m sadly O.K. as O.K. can be with that, too.
But comfort creates a void. Being too comfortable—particularly in sports, especially when you’re floating along what has become one of those water park lazy rivers, except this one’s full of calm sewage—is a bad thing. I’m not here to have the season set to autoplay.
“Exposing what is mortal and unsure to all that fortune, death and danger dare, even for an eggshell. Isn’t there something in that?” he asked, looking up at Mustapha Mond. “Quite apart from God–though of course God would be a reason for it. Isn’t there something in living dangerously?”
I need something dangerous to this season. Something NASCAR-ish that taps into my id that’s been hiding somewhere as the NFL has jaded me these past few years. I need something to move me like Huxley’s John the Savage. There is no threat of a crash here. Nothing carnival-like about what’s left of this squad going forward. Now, had Marc Trestman somehow retained his head coaching job, then I’d be able to gawk at the reality TV this would have mutated into, but now the team is led by John Fox, who is all competent and stuff and has his players’ respect, and that’s no fun in a year in which hitting league bottom is basically inevitable.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Bears now have the highest chance to get the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft at 27%.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 24, 2015
Desperation has set in far too early. Irrational measures are born regardless. It’s time. Bring me Tim Tebow.
Yes, it goes against every sane part of my being. No, I am no fan of his. Yes, I think his cultish following and the misguided assessments of him are a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with America.
But, damn it, so is the NFL, with the anchor-franchise Bears gurgling as worst of the wrongest in a league with a whole lotta wrong. So, if it ain’t illegal but absolutely absurd, why the hell not? Give me that sin. I claim the right to be unhappy.
Tebow at Halas Hall and in Soldier Field would chafe my nipples until they ceased to be. I would be so bothered by the ridiculous media attention, the local news crowdsourcing for mouth-breathed soundbites from a newly lighted level of Bears fan. In only a matter of days I would want to chew my face off, but hell if I wouldn’t be feeling something.
The old connection with John Fox is almost too perfect. “Do whatever the hell it takes,” Fox once said regarding Tebow as an unconventional
Denver Broncos quarterback. “I mean, what the hell? You don’t get points for style in this league.” Thanks, coach. I couldn’t agree more.
If not Tebow Time, even a return of the Rex Grossman would be a significant notch above the resignation of right now.
Grossman was Original Recipe to Jay Cutler’s Extra Crispy. Cutler gets the national attention because he’s employed here in an age of uncreative social media jokes and assertions that the punchability of a man’s face determines his ability to win, but fans very much hated Grossman for six years because Bears fans hate every starting quarterback who isn’t the massively overrated Jim McMahon. Plus, Grossman took the team to the Super Bowl, even as the loudest of Bears fans clamored annually for Kyle Orton, who was like the vanilla ice cream that is comparatively jazzed up with those little black flecks in it.
I might even take Brandon Marshall back in anticipation of what will happen on sidelines and microphones after a few straight games of not being able to get the ball. Wait ... no, I wouldn’t. (And I’ll probably get to watch that from afar occur in New York anyway.)
These fever dream scenarios will ever happen, though. No matter how much I hold out hope that just maybe something freakish can hit the Chicago Bears like manna from absurdist heaven. Weep for my unfortunate comfort, ye mighty fans of other teams providing either legitimate hope of success or, at least, entertainment. I’ve got nothing over here, save for 14 more games of comfort in nothingness. No poetry, danger, or sin. A total void of sweet unhappiness watching something meaningfully bad.
I don’t think Jaguars fans know just how good they have it.