Old habits or why I can’t cheer for Green Bay

Rick Reilly gives you every reason why football fans should be cheering for the Packers come Sunday.  I have to agree with a lot of his points.  Packers have history. Lots of history. And they have true fans. Once a cheesehead, always a cheesehead. And because they are the last little town to keep their team. The Green Bay Packers are truly a home team. Their roots begin and end in Green Bay. Some Bears fans don’t even know where Decatur, Illinois is on a map, or the fact the Bears were once the Decatur Staleys. But I’m betting future cheeseheads won’t have to worry about that one. Milwaukee will never steal their Packers.

So why can’t I cheer for the Packers? Because, as the saying goes, old habits die hard. I’ve been rooting against the green and gold for so long, I wouldn’t even know where to begin on Sunday. How do you cheer for a team you’ve spent twenty or more years despising? I just don’t think it can be done.

Someone suggested I approach it as I do the Shockers and the Missouri Valley Conference. If the NCAA tourney only allows one or two MVC teams in and neither are my Shox, I cheer for those MVC teams. It makes no difference if it’s UNI or our arch rival Creighton, I back the MVC. But I back those conference teams because I know no one else will. No one out there is circling a MVC team on their bracket for the second and third rounds, let alone a Sweet Sixteen spot. My Shox, along with the entire Missouri Valley Conference, are underdogs. Always.

Not the same in the NFL. The NFC North division is not considered an underdog. Never will be. No one is labeling the NFC North as a mid-major division. Maybe the NFC West, but that’s a whole other post. So this approach does not work for me. I can’t support the Pack simply because they share the NFC North with my Bears. When it comes to this, I can’t cheer for the division team. It just doesn’t work.

I’d like to be the bigger Bears fan. I’d like to set my differences, my hatred, aside for one game. But just thinking about it makes my palms sweat and my stomach churn. And while this rivalry has been ongoing since 1921, what immediately comes to my mind is 1986 and Charles Martin’s hit list. A DT for the Pack, he wrote a list of Bears numbers on a towel he wore, a hit list. He was the guy responsible for slamming Jim McMahon to the turf  and ending the QB’s season. Plus it’s all the other stories, the fights, the accusations, the games,  the history. Most importantly, the habit. This is one habit I don’t believe I can break.

So while many will be cheering for the Packers on Sunday, I will be cheering against them. Because it’s what I know best and what I know is right, at least for a Bears fan.

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