The first time I went to a Bears game was in the early 80s. I believe it was 1983. The Bears played the Baltimore Colts. Yes, the Baltimore Colts. Before Indianapolis. Before Peyton Manning. Baltimore. It was a Sunday in late September, but the air in Chicago was already hinting of the cold to come. I was wearing leg-warmers. Hey, it was 1983. The Bears lost and Walter Payton played only one drive, if I remember correctly. He was hurt or ill. Willie Gault scored the only touchdown.
The second time I saw the Bears was for the 2001 playoff game against Philadelphia. That was the season they went 13-3, a record I predicted at the beginning of the season, bet lunch on and won. It was also the year of miraculous comebacks spurred by defensive interceptions. It was a crazy season. It was also the last season in the old Soldier Field. I attended with my sister, as guests of Steve Maresso. Steve is a second generation Bears season ticketholder. He kindly offers up two of his four tickets each season, usually during December. If you are familiar with winter in Chicago, you’ll realize Steve is a smart guy. The playoff game was December 19. A Saturday. And it was cold. Two pairs of long underwear, jeans, thermal ski sweater, down coat, fleece hat, ski gloves, blankets in the seats and cardboard on the cement cold. But is was sooo worth it. To be at a playoff game. To be in Soldier Field. Unfortunately, they lost 33-19. And yet the picture taken of me after the game, just outside of Soldier Field, is a picture of contentment.
The last time I saw my beloved Bears was December 28, 2003. A Christmas gift from my brother. Only this time I traveled to KC with my parents and we watched the Bears get smoked in Arrowhead, 31-3. I was decked out in my blue and orange, yet the Chiefs fans were nice to me. Of course they were, their team beat the hell out of mine. But again, I was happy. It was such a great time. And even better because I shared seats and beers with my little brother.
Not sure when I’ll make it to another Bears game I promised myself that once I earned those degrees, I would ensure a Bears game within two years. I’ve yet to see the renovated Soldier Field. And I want to drink a frosty beer while sweating under my layers of clothing. But most of all, I want to sing along with 65,000 of my best Bears buddies after a Bears touchdown. Soon, my Monsters of the Midway. Very soon.