CHICAGO–The entire Windy City is getting geared up for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game between the Bears and the Packers, two teams with decades of bad blood between them, apparently. The Chicago-Green Bay rivalry dates back almost to the NFL’s inception and remains the league’s most enduring, for reasons fans can not recall, exactly.
“I hate the Packers with a passion!” said Stan Cosnowski, a self-proclaimed lifelong Bears fan from Hammond, Indiana. “My old man always used to say, ‘I don’t care if we win two games this year, so long as they’re both against Green Bay’. I haven’t the slightest idea why he said that.”
Sunday will mark the first playoff battle between Chicago and Green Bay since 1941, the outcome of which has been lost to the mists of time. Footage of the contest has deteriorated beyond repair, but NFL Films president Steve Sabol insists “it was a tough-nosed, smash-mouth affair. I mean, it’d have to be, right?”
The most enduring image of the rivalry remains an old black and white photo, taken sometime in the 1930s, probably. In it, a bunch of guys covered in mud, wearing those old-timey leather helmets, fight to try and grab this thing that barely looks like a football by modern standards. The final score of this game remains unknown, but picture has come to symbolize the rivalry’s rich, featureless tradition.
“Bears-Packers is the best rivalry in sports, no question,” said Frank Kennedy, a Bears fan from Berwyn, Illinois. “I think it started with this guy who played for Green Bay a long time ago, some linebacker named O’Leary. After a game he got drunk and set a bunch of buildings on fire and almost burned the whole city down. I definitely read that somewheres.”
But it’s not just Chicago eagerly anticipating this obscurely heated battle. Thousands of “Cheeseheads” will make the trip to Soldier Field as they have for generations, for reasons that remain murky at best.
“You wanna know why I hate the Bears so much?” asked Trevor Lundegard, a Packers fan in town for the game from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. “Good, because so do I. The more I think about these strange emotions, the more they baffle me.”
In keeping with time-honored, unclear tradition, the mayors of the two cities have made a friendly wager. Chicago’s Richard Daley has put up several dozen of the city’s famous deep-dish pizzas, while Green Bay’s Jim Schmitt has promised some of his state’s finest cheeses. Regardless of who wins the bet, both mayors pledged to continue to irrationally despise the other’s football team.
“This as good as it gets,” Daley told a crowd during a Bears pep rally in The Loop. “Two bitter foes squaring off, in a match-up rife with tradition and history, the finer details of which escape me at the moment.”