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‘I Still Own You’: Words, Not 1986-Style Cheap Shots, Fuel Packers-Bears Rivalry

Aaron Rodgers has no regrets for adding fuel to the Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears feud.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – On Nov. 23, 1986, Jim McMahon – the quarterback of the defending Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears – was intercepted by Green Bay Packers defensive back Mark Lee.

Defensive lineman Charles Martin picked up McMahon from behind and threw him to the turf. McMahon landed on his injured right shoulder. Martin, who was wearing a white towel with a “hit list” that included McMahon among five Bears offensive players, was suspended for two games. McMahon’s season was over.

The viciousness of the Packers-Bears rivalry has long since waned. But it’s still an emotional battle, as demonstrated when these ancient rivals last met on Oct. 17 at Soldier Field. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers clinched yet another Green Bay victory with a 6-yard touchdown run that added another layer to the series.

“I’ve owned you all my (bleeping) life! I own you! I still own you!” he screamed at the top of his lungs while getting mobbed by teammates.

If this were 35 years ago, Rodgers might have needed to put his head on a swivel for Sunday night's nationally televised rematch.

Once upon a time, the Bears were the bullies and McMahon was the brash quarterback. From 1983 through 1988, Chicago went 10-1 in the series and won six consecutive NFC Central Division championships. Playing Chicago was the Super Bowl for Green Bay, which from 1973 through 1988 never finished with a winning record.

It's been a complete reversal behind Brett Favre and Rodgers. As Rodgers said in noting the roots of the rivalry, “Little Green Bay” has gone from 23 games under .500 in the series against “big Chicago” to a 102-95-6 advantage. Rodgers is a ridiculous 22-5 against the Bears in his career.

So, in a manner of speaking, Rodgers does own the Bears – or at least their middle-finger-saluting fans.

“I don’t know that you can question a whole lot of what I said,” Rodgers said on Wednesday.

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“We’ve had a good record over the years against them and won a lot of games at Soldier Field and at Lambeau Field. It’s been a great rivalry; I’m proud to be a part of it. We have gotten the better of them the last 27, 28 times we’ve played them for the most part.”

Times have changed. In free agency, players shift teams. They share agents. They do events together. They form relationships that Bart Starr and Dick Butkus never would have considered.

Heck, even McMahon finished his career with the Packers and still comes back for occasional events to celebrate the 1996 Super Bowl championship.

So, at least one Bears player took no offense.

“This isn’t golf,” said Bears tight end Jimmy Graham, who played two seasons alongside Rodgers. “It’s a game of whupping the man across from you, simple as that, so there’s not a lot of niceties.”

With Rodgers, the Packers have done most of the whupping in the series. The truth hurts.

“It’s not like you can get too upset about the comment that ‘12’ made,” receiver Davante Adams said. “We’ll see if they have anything to say on Sunday.”

Rodgers isn’t expecting to be cheap-shotted on Sunday night by a Bears defender with “12” written on a towel and a bull’s-eye placed on Rodgers’ collarbone. He’s also not expecting many niceties from the Bears. Chicago has been beaten like a drum for years and years and years by Rodgers. And this particular edition of the Bears has lost six of seven overall to fall out of contention in the NFC.

Sunday night at Lambeau Field will be their Super Bowl, just like it was for Green Bay in 1986.

“A lot of times in situations like this, the trash talk is only going to be used if you’re getting after that individual that was trash talking,” Rodgers said. “So, in order to trash talk, you have to have a lot of confidence in what you accomplished and what you’re going to accomplish in the future. At some point, what I said will be used against me. That’s just part of it. But I have no regrets for saying what I said and, obviously, I think the record kind of speaks for itself. But I get it, at some point that will be used against me. It is what it is. I don’t regret saying it at all.”