75 Seasons turn 100: A Chicago Bears Healing Essay

Tonight, Da Bears and Packers begin the 100th Season in NFL history.

Rewind to last January, when one of the most exciting Bears seasons in over a decade came to a crashing (*or doinking) halt when you-know-who hit the you-know-what.

Twice.

This is a declaration that I’ve come to peace with it and am ready to move on.

Sort of.

Something I’ve been saying a lot lately to people is: “If the worst thing that has happened in my life in the last year is a Cody Parkey missed field goal? Then I’ve got a great life.”

I do have a great life. It feels great to type that.

But just to confirm: If the worst thing that happened this year is a missed kick that instantly snuffed out a 12-4 Bears season and gifted the Eagles and the city I live in a playoff win: If that’s the worst thing that happened in my life this year?

Then I really, truly have a great life. There’s no doubt.

But I’m ready to get a football season going again, for better of for worse.

This upcoming Bears season is as anticipated and as exciting as any in recent memory.

I’m ready to see if Akiem Hicks can blow up backfields again week after week. I’m ready to see if Khalil Mack can get to the quarterback and change the course of a season again. I’m ready to see if Eddie Jackson can make big plays and a few game-sealing pick-six returns again. I’m ready to see if Mitch Trubisky can throw for 6 TD’s in one game again. I’m ready to see if Tarik Cohen can get into space. I’m ready to see if David Montgomery can be an impact rookie. I’m ready to see if Da Bears can defend their NFC North crown. I’m ready to see if Matt Nagy can bring continued growth and stability in his second year to a city and a fan base starving for it. Absolutely starving for it.

Which also scares the hell out of me at the same time. In the NFL, not often does a season turn out the way you think it will unless you’re the New England Patriots. But for the rest of us football peasants, it’s true.

So ready or not: the 100th NFL Season begins tonight.

Like any relationship, it’s complicated and has taken growth.

Last February, the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in the Super Bowl.

During that Super Bowl, there was a commercial for the 100th Anniversary of the National Football League. That means one big thing to me: It means I consider my formative awareness and love affair for the NFL during the 1994/95 season. That season marked the 75th Anniversary of the National Football League. During that season, I hit record on every possible NFL Films release: notably The All-Time Team and 75 Seasons: The Story Of The NFL. Those were brilliant and inspiring television moments etched into my 14-year-old mind. 

My family brought home a VCR in late 1990. Learning how to record things off of the radio with a tape recorder blew my mind: but learning how to record shows off of TV really opened up my world to film/sports/etc.

But nothing was recorded more in those days than Steve Sabol and NFL Films.

I’d check TV listings in the Argus Leader to find when NFL Films shows were on, and set the VCR to record each and every episode. Morning, day, and night. I had dozens of tapes, most two-to-three hours long that were all loaded with NFL Films start to finish. I’d study each episode carefully.

I probably should’ve been studying Biology and Algebra instead, but it is what it is. All things considered, things turned out just fine.

But I’d study every single NFL Films frame, every sound byte, every line. I can still hear my favorite lines as I type this:

 

“…all those mornings on the mountain taught Payton if he honed his body like a tool, he could use it as a weapon..”

 

“…when you’re talking about Night Train Lane, you’re talking about in my book: the greatest defensive back that ever lived.”

 

“Give me 18 inches of daylight. That’s all I need.” 

 

“I told Coach Halas in my interview when he asked what was my football philosophy: ‘Coach, who’re you kidding? My philosophy is the same as yours: kick the other teams ass.”

 

Fast forward to last January, and unfortunately another memorable sound byte was added into recorded football lore:

 

“Oh my goodness. The Bears season is going to end on a double doink.”

 

So here’s to moving on, and here’s to starting new.

Here’s to a new NFL season, the 100th.

The NFL’s been complicated recently for many, many reasons. But the league did it right with this matchup tonight.

Here’s to the NFL’s Charter Franchise Chicago Bears kicking this thing off at Soldier Field.

Hope, healing, and redemption.

Bear Down, Chicago Bears.

Let’s do this one for Papa Bear Halas.

 

…and P.S. if you build me up and rip my heart out again this season, I’ll likely need a script for Xanax. The entire city of Chicago will as well.

 

GO BEARS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Joe Janssen

Born in South Dakota in the late 1900's

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