Football

Welcome back to the last regular-season edition of THE VAULT, my weekly column dedicated to giving you 700 or so words about a nightmare of games past. For the 4th straight season, the Bears and Vikings will clash on the final week of the NFL’s regular season, and the words I’ve seen being used to describe this game are as follows:

“meaningless” (NBC Sports)
“disappointing” (BearsWire)
“miserable” (CBS Local)

This shit reads like a Kafka short story. So, in the interest of keeping myself interested in this bit, I’m going to go in-depth on last year’s season finale (a 24-10 Bears victory) as seen through the eyes of a fictional Bears superfan going through what could be best described as an “existential crisis”.

As Gregor Olson awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into Don Wachter (AKA “The Bearman”). He lay on his bed in suburban La Grange, Illinois, and looked at the dark ceiling. His alarm was going off, it was 3am. Time to get ready. Gameday. Noon. Bears/Vikings.

“Who am I? How did I get here?” It was no dream. Gregor’s room had transformed from the modest empty desked cold space he knew into one adorned with pictures. Pictures of him.

But that wasn’t him; it was just a facimile of him, like a bad photocopied picture. Him, with so many of his heroes: Bryan Cox. Donnell Woolford. Steve Stenstrom. What he wouldn’t have given to remember times like those. Times that he could use to help explain the situation he found himself in. How long had it been since he became The Bearman?

As if one might breathe or reach a hand to rub a bruise, Gregor was instinctively already at his dresser. His makeup was already halfway applied before he realized he was doing it. “What sort of rabbit hole have I fallen into? Hello?” he yelled. Silence returned his cries, and as the echo bounced off the walls of his rented room, he looked back at the mirror to see his costume for the day already applied. Everything fit perfectly, as if he had worn them in for years, though Gregor’s eyes still saw his old body. His soft limp now gone, he began to operate the body of The Bearman as if it was his own.

In a weird stasis between disoriented and confident, he got into his 2010 Toyota Bear-olla and made his way to Soldier Field, ready to watch the 11-4 Bears face off against the 8-6-1 Minnesota Vikings. In the car, Gregor began to feel more and more uneasy, considering he wasn’t even a sports fan, let alone a football fanatic! His brain began accessing stored knowledge of the current roster, the past legends, and a bunch of useless knowledge about RPOs. Gregor decided to fight it, for if he couldn’t control the whims of the body, he could certainly call out to the world for help, to free him from this prison.

Soldier Field was empty for gameday, and the security guard welcomed him as “Don” before asking why he was there if the Bears were in Minnesota to play at 3:25, having been flexed into an afternoon slot.

“Don, are you feeling okay? You look kinda queasy.” The man said.

“Please help me!” Gregor screamed. Gregor was trying his best to get out. He needed to be free. Free of Bearman. This had to end, Gregor was not welcome in the body of the Bearman. Gregor protested from inside of the Bearman, struggling in a way that to outside observers probably looked like a mild panic attack.

“Don? Um, I’m gonna call 911. You just stay here, okay?”

“PLEASE HELP ME!” The words exploded from Don’s mouth, propelled with all the force Gregor could manage to summon. Without another word, his foot pressed down on the gas and before he could blink an eye, the Bear-olla was on Lake Shore Drive. Gregor was no longer in control, the Bearman was in the drivers seat, literally and figuratively.

Gregor found the Bearman suit appalling, and when it dragged him into the Buffalo Wild Wings, he found himself even more disgusted. A lifelong vegetarian, Gregor knew this B-Dubs was where the final confrontation between himself, the very notion of free will, and his flesh prison would take place. As the game was playing on the TV, people came up to buy free drinks and take pictures with the Bearman. Everyone loves the Bearman. Let’s buy a beer for the Bearman. Let’s buy some wings for the Bearman. Boneless. Low heat, because the Bearman has low tolerance for spicy food.

“NO” he bellowed, the fake teeth on his Bear-hat rattling with the force of his rebuke. “I AM NOT THE BEARMAN.” As the bar fell silent, Jordan Howard ran in for his second TD of the first half, putting the Bears up 13-0. Cody Parkey’s extra point was unsuccessful, and for a moment, the eyes of the bar were no longer on the Bearman, but nervously darting around the room wondering if this team would be looking for a kicker before the playoff run. 

“Bearman, what do you think? Should the Bears sign someone off the street?” A patron said, handing Gregor’s prison a steaming plate of wings. This was it, the time was now. The body of Bearman reached for a wing, and dipped it in the ranch. Gregor fought. Bearman won. The meat entered his body, and the soul of Gregor Olsen became infuriated. As if a medieval army about to unleash their final charge, he balled up all that he had and exploded.

Chunks of Bear jerseys with human remains littered the floor like so much confetti. The playoffs began next Sunday, at home. 3am. There remained a room full of fans who would not see it, nor anything ever again.

Tarik Cohen was running in for a touchdown. The Vikings season was over.

Football

Welcome back to THE VAULT, fellow travelers on the cosmic highway that is Bears fandom. Today I’m gonna torture you by recapping a game that is in my opinion the “Worst Game of Football Ever Played.” Now, I’m not counting those 1930s slug-fests between teams named goofy things like the West Aurora Kings or the Providence Beavers; this title goes to a modern game. I’ve seen 2019 Bengals games that were inherently more watchable than this, shit I’ve seen Despicable Me 2 as a summer camp counselor and I’d rather watch it back to back with kids aged 5-11 in a rec room with mats that smell like pee than watch this again.

I’ve written about the 2011 Bears several times in this column, because I’m a hack and that team was a beautiful trainwreck that was 7-3 before the injury to Jay Cutler against San Diego, and went to 7-5 after this shitshow where they lost Matt Forte. The 7-3 Bears ended up 8-8, that’s the type of legendary implosion that accompanies the loss of the best Bears QB in franchise history to injury. Yes, I said Jay Cutler is the best Bears QB in the history of the franchise, please @ me because I love talking shit on Twitter.

The Bears came into this abomination at 7-4 with a real chance to right the ship against a Chiefs team led by Tyler fucking Palko, in for an injured Matt fucking Cassel. Kyle fucking Orton came in for Palko in this game because he was playing so bad, threw a flea flicker that was 10 yards underthrown, and got hurt on that play and was taken out for Palko again. That’s the most depressing carousel I’ve ever seen, and I’ve gone to Kiddyland with a drunk father who got into it with someone at concessions. Can you imagine that QB room? I’m fucking bored just thinking about it, like they’re all gonna sit there and talk about tax write-offs and complain about the mayo on the sandwiches in the practice facility being too spicy.

I had to drink an energy drink just to get through the highlights, and it’s gonna fuck up my sleep schedule. I can’t believe this shit-ass game from 2011 is going to fuck up my life for a day in 2019. Fels, you need to pay me more dude because this is an exercise in masochism. Forte got hurt in the first quarter and Marion Barber and Khalil Bell picked up the slack in the most boring, shitty way possible. They combined for 18 carries and 78 yards, 41 of those coming on two runs. Think about that, outside of two carries that were 41 yards, two NFL RBs rushed for 37 combined yards on 16 carries. Caleb Hanie went 11-24 for 133 and three interceptions, and was sacked seven times. Some of these numbers don’t even feel real, like there was talent on this team! Hester, Knox, Earl Bennett… those dudes are all at least replacement-level players at their position, but this was a Mike Martz offense so you know that the playbook looked like a Necronomicon with the spirit of Greg Olsen flying out every time you open it. Marion Barber caught a wide open pass on the goal line for the Bears but it was called back via penalty because he wasn’t set, and the Bears got their only three points of the day.

The Bears defense played good enough to win (sound familiar?), but the Chiefs pulled out a win despite Thomas Jones rushing for 36 yards on 16 carries, somehow even worse than Barber and Bell combined. Dexter McCluster had himself the only good game on the ledger: nine carries, 61 yards, four catches for 46 yards, and the game’s only touchdown, a hail mary he brought in off a Brian Urlacher tip right before the half. How many times have we seen something similar: a hail mary caught when a player does what they’re trained to do: knock it down? I say catch that shit or bat it as far away as you can, but I’m literally sitting here in sweatpants thinking about ordering takeout so take that with a grain of salt.

Dwayne Bowe had zero catches on nine targets, Steve Breaston had zero catches on seven targets. For the Bears, Knox went 0-for-8 and Hester went 0-for-4. Despite all of this absolute garbage, the Bears were in position to score with four minutes left when a Caleb Hanie pass hit Roy Williams in the chest on a slant route on about the twoyard line. The ball, as it tends to do around Roy Williams, bounced out and was batted around before an ugly interception ended this ugly ass game.

 

Football

Welcome back to THE VAULT, where it’s always Week 14 somewhere. While the 2019 Bears have their playoff aspirations dangling by the thinnest of margins, we’re in here living in the past.

For those of my dear readers who may not know, I am a high school History/English teacher and I was thinking about having my kids read “The Time Machine” by H.G Wells. I probably won’t, because books written in 1895 that read like they were written in 1895 are a tough sell for anyone, especially alternative to expulsion students that are forced to prepare for a stupid standardized test in April.

“The Time Machine” will be an irrelevant exercise for teenagers, but what about Bears fans? What will THE VAULT look like in 50 years? 100 years? Will football even exist? Will the planet even exist? I know I can’t get too deep into the radical leftist position that “climate change and humans are harming the Earth” so I won’t, but it is and we are.

So, without any further ado, let’s look at THE VAULT 2083, writing about the Peoria Bears versus the Wisconsin Rapids Packers from Smarch 18th, 2077:

Welcome back to THE VAULT, our weekly subsidized, government-funded nostalgia trip through time. I appreciate you sharing your entertainment credits with me as always, because I know that you only have 15 minutes a week that your bosses allow you to be away from your desk. Thanks for spending it with me, and I promise that I will use my accumulated credits responsibly. 

Today we’re gonna look back at the Bears vs the Packers from 2077, a game handily won by our beloved Peoria Bears 77-3, the biggest margin of victory since the Bears moved from Chicago to Peoria after the great Lake Michigan tsunami of 2058 (sponsored by BUD LIGHT- dilly dilly!) that caused Soldier Field to float all the way down to the central part of the state, and with all the remaining McCaskeys (just Virginia at the time) fleeing the country in the middle of the night, Peoria felt like the best option (a sentence never said before or after this article). As you know, the Packers were still reeling from the loss of Aaron Rodgers, who at the young age of 79 was sent to Mars to go hit on and alienate all the famous single women in an attempt to convince them to come back to Earth. 

As you may recall, this is the game that got the Packers kicked out of Green Bay, since they made a bet with new Bears General Manager Sam “brought to you by LOWE’S” Fels-McCaskey Jr over ownership of America’s second biggest small town. As you reading this may know, he had since converted the entire city to the world’s biggest Mars Cheese Castle before the military junta led by the Sons of Josh Bellamy dethroned him a bloody, cheesy uprising. Any urban explorers now know it’s haunted by the ghosts of those dead soldiers, and the only way to get past them is to throw a football directly at their chests so when they drop it you can move right past them. They can shoot a gun, but when it comes to catching passes they are no gouda. 

Those of you that remember the FEDEX Cheese Bowl of 2077 may remember that the day was paced by Khalil Mack III and his 4 touchdown passes, 3 of which went to Perg Flumpus, weeks before he was banned for life from the league for testing positive for Mango Juul pods. The Packers lone score was a dropkick through the AMAZON PRIME 3 point field goal target, just barely missing the 10 point uprights in the first year of “NFL Rock N’ Jock” rules. Chester “The Clump” Clumps grinded out 84 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown against a defense running the iconic “Cover 11” that as you know was invented by Rich “The Hedgehog” Ryan, son of Rex “The Wolfman” Ryan, who was the son of some dumbass radio DJ or something.

The Peoria Bears would ride the momentum of the Cheese Bowl victory to finish the season 21-1, and then win the first four MICROSOFT SURFACE Playoff games before losing in the WAL-MART NFC Championship to the New Orleans Football Pelicans, a game decided by the infamous broken back sack where Mack’s back cracked on impact and the loose ball was returned for the game winning touchdown. Thank god we all have free health insurance and readily available robot bones so Mack was back in black with a knack of beating the Pack. The Packers haven’t won since and I hear if they go winless again in 2083 they’re gonna be relegated to the 3rd division, the last stop before NFL teams get the death penalty. I think it’s about time they were replaced with the Arlington Heights River Rangers, personally. 

Please help me they’re keeping me here against my will and they’re forcing me to watch All-22 footage of the Second American Civil War and after this they’re gonna (REDACTED)

Football

Happy Thursday and welcome back to THE VAULT, my weekly sermon where my pulpit is a Dave Wannstedt-run sideline and my scripture is just whatever relevant pages and boxscores I can find on Pro Football Reference.

Today’s Vault is a deep dive into the Monday Night Football tilt between the Bears and a visiting, defending Super Bowl Champ Dallas Cowboys team that took place on September 2nd, 1996. It was a Week 1 surprise Bears victory over a Michael Irvin-less Cowboys team where Deion Sanders had twice as many passing targets as any Bears player, and seven more targets than anyone else on the Cowboys. Of Deion’s 67 passing targets in 1996, 15 of them came in this Monday night opener. What a weird fucking timeline.

How weird was this game? Take a look at some of these goofy ass stats:
-The only passing TD thrown in the game was from Curtis Conway to Raymont Harris
-Bears punter Todd Sauerbrun had more passing yards than Curtis Conway, also from a pass that was completed to Raymont Harris.
Bryan Cox was responsible for as many points (6) as the entire Cowboys team
Herschel Walker caught two passes for some reason

This Cowboys team was still stacked with declining talent left over from their time as the dominant team in the NFL: Aikman, Irvin, Smith, Sanders, Moose Johnston, Leon Lett, Charles Haley, Darren Woodson. The Bears had Curtis Conway, Raymont Harris, Erik Kramer, Walt Harris, and Mark Carrier. Yet somehow, they came out on top.

I was looking back on the 1996 NFL Draft because I love second-guessing Bears drafts from the past, and aside from the amazing players they passed on, it should be noted that current Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri came out in the 1996 NFL Draft. Surreal.

The Bears were overmatched in this game, but they pulled out all the stops and got a W. A ton of trick plays and some key turnovers were the difference, so with that I’d like to take a second and praise Raymont Harris, or as you may know him, THE ULTRABACK (emphasis mine).

It’s hard as hell to find any good Raymont Harris tape on Youtube, and it’s a damn shame. By comparison, I found dozens of Jason McKie videos, and he wasn’t nearly as cool and certainly didn’t have a dope nickname. Raymont Harris has a fan page on Facebook with 39 likes and no profile picture. Players from the 90s that weren’t superstars will always get a raw deal in my eyes because they’re young enough to still know how to open a PDF but don’t have their middling highlight tapes available for me to peruse when I’m avoiding lesson planning. Like, they know they’re missing out, you know? Think about the fact that Donnell Woolford doesn’t have a sick Youtube compilation. I guess I’m really just hoping to watch old Bears videos and see if these players were actually good or fun to watch, and while there’s no good Curtis Conway videos there’s a Marcus Robinson 2000 highlight tape that I could watch if I so choose. It should be noted that I chose to watch that Marcus Robinson hype video and they spend half of the time talking about Dez White, Bobby Engram, Marty Booker, and Kaseem Sinceno.

You read that right, during a Marcus Robinson highlight video, the name Kaseem Sinceno was said.

I digress. Obviously fullbacks don’t have much room in today’s NFL so it’s not really that interesting of a thought experiment to ponder how well he’d do in the modern league, but he had a rare size/speed combo that looks good in the videos I can find of his time at Ohio State and various Sportscenter clips of Bears games from this era (I miss your voice so much, Stu Scott). He was apparently named the “toughest running back in the NFL” by a poll hosted by the Denver Post in 1997, and signed a one-year tender to compete for lead back duties that season with Rashaan Salaam, another player I loved.

To really wrap this Vault, I should mention that while Rashaan Salaam has a couple dope highlight videos of his on-field play, all the videos you can find of him came after his tragic death on December 5th, 2016; I’m not complaining but in an age where I’m so used to watching highlight tapes where players are making huge plays with like a Lil Wayne track as the backing music, it’s surreal to watch Salaam run through people at Colorado while Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1” plays in the background.

Bears won in 1996, Bears win in 2019. Go watch some obscure Bears on Youtube if you can. Or just settle for watching Raymont Harris do a cameo on Married With Children.

Football

Welcome back to another edition of THE VAULT, a weekly segment where I leave our global consciousness behind and ascend to an alternate reality where Curtis Conway is a first ballot Hall of Famer and all of our dads quit drinking in the early 90s.

Two weeks ago I did a Bears/Lions preview and to be honest I’m fucking sick of the Lions, and this space is where I get to talk all my shit, so let’s talk shit. Instead of bringing back some historical Bears game, I’d rather use this space to help prime you for watching a Bears game with your in-laws who range from “casuals” to someone who hasn’t watched a football game since the AFL/NFL merger but says they stopped watching when players started taking a knee during the anthem. This guide is for you, so that when they add you on Facebook and post their hot political takes/Minion memes/Ben Shapiro quotes, you’ll be able to safely unfriend or block knowing you did all you could to help them understand football.

Yes, you read that right: the only thing I have to offer as it pertains to how I can improve the lives of strangers is trying to teach them the finer points of the RPO.

Your in-laws and your extended family suck at watching football. Mostly, they’ll be on their phones or loudly talking over the broadcast if you live in one of those homes where people say “let’s turn off our phones this holiday” or you actually like your family. Luckily, the Bears play the early game of the day’s slate, so hopefully the game is damn near over before your uncle gets hammered and says something racist about some player being “one of the good ones”.

You’ll have to talk Trubisky with people who have no idea exactly what’s going on with his pisspoor mechanics or fragile mental state. Just tell them they’re right in their analysis and you read on Twitter the Bears are considering bringing in Colin Kaepernick for the rest of the year.

“What’s the deal with that Nagy guy? He only runs short passes or runs up the middle!” Yeah, you’re actually spot on with that analysis there, Uncle Kev. That said, you could try to explain the intricacies of the total oblivion that is the Bears offense, but he’s just gonna forget and then compliment your new romantic partner on their body. Tread lightly.

Your family is gonna be spewing takes straight out of Skip Bayless’ wet dreams, and it’s up to you to pick your battles. I wouldn’t try to defend the offensive side of the ball, save explaining anything about this team when the defense gives up a field goal after a turnover and your cousin talks about how shitty they look this year even though as far as being athletic is concerned, the only running that cousin has done in the last year is from child support.

My advice for you is to either get to the place hosting your Thanksgiving dinner after the Bears game, or get there early and hope nobody shows up until the Dallas/Buffalo game. That one’s the easy one, since everyone’s non-football fan family members remember Dallas and will probably root for them, and you can play bingo trying to keep track of how many of them compliment Cole Beasley for being “gritty” or “sneaky fast”.

The Saints/Falcons will be a great nightcap, and for once you can use your fantasy football team to get out of those post-dinner conversations. I’ve spent the end of multiple Thanksgivings in my car, blasting one-hitters while listening to the Westwood One broadcast of the late game; those late nights are some of my favorite Thanksgiving memories. I guess that makes it sound like I hate my family, but that’s not true. I just have a lot of reverence for this stupid game we all love and if I can use it to get away from the hot takes that my in-laws spew over the holidays, I’ll take it.

Football is a great way to ignore the politics of Thanksgiving, and this year we are lucky enough to watch our beloved Bears shit the bed on national tv again!

Football

Welcome back to THE VAULT, my weekly sacrifice to the Dark Lord of Bears fandom. Through a combination of a shrine to Josh Bellamy and a woven idol made entirely of Bobby Engram’s discarded trash, I hope to write 750 words and pay tribute to the fans before me so that one day during my darkest hour the spirits of men in mustaches and sweater vests whisk me to safety. Also if this blog blows up and I make this my full time job, I hope to one day be in the position to insult Jay Mariotti to his stupid face.

Speaking of Jay’s that I’ll never be cool enough to even insult, Jay Cutler’s 2015 Bears were a John Fox led 6-10 dumpster fire that shares an uncomfortable level of talent with Mitch Trubisky and Matt Nagy’s 2019 eventual 7-9 shitshow. Let it be noted once again, if prime Jay Cutler was under center for this team, they’d be playing a lot better until he inevitably got hurt and the Bears had to turn to one of their menagerie of garbage backups (the 2015 season being highlighted by Jimmy Clausen’s outstanding performance against Seattle- a game that might not look out of place this year).

The Bears were 3-5 going up against the then 4-4 St. Louis Rams, in a game won handily by the good guys, 37-13. Not only did Jeremy Langford out perform Todd Gurley in every statistical category, Ka’Deem Carey also gained more yards on the ground than Gurley. Langford caught a screen pass and took it EIGHTY THREE (shouts out to Clark from Des Plaines) yards to paydirt. Hell, even Zach Miller scored from over eighty yards out, grabbing 5 balls for 107 and 2 touchdowns. Zach Miller was the last capable Bears tight end and that’s sad because he was literally a journeyman though he played way above his pay grade in his time in Chicago.

It’s always been a testament to the various Bears offensive lines that so many mid-round, ostensibly just average running backs have found success in the blue and orange. Jeremy Langford got 537 of his career 762 rushing yards his rookie year despite backing up Matt Forte for more than half the season, and was then replaced by Jordan Howard three games into the next year. Jordan Howard is a beast and should be on an NFL roster, but he is about a league average running back depending on his situation. The John Fox-led Bears was the perfect situation for a relatively slow, grinding running back that gets more effective as the game goes on.

Jeremy Langford, Alshon Jeffery, and Marty Bennett are the Bears players on the offensive side of the ball for this team that the Bears turned loose for one reason or another, and the only one I really think could’ve stayed and made a difference on the field was Marty. Notable castoffs on defense are Adrian Amos, Bryce Callahan, and of course a now retired Willie Young. Goddamn I loved Willie Young.

You can see some of the building blocks of last year’s NFC Champion Rams on this 2015 trash heap football team, mainly Gurley and Aaron Donald. Sure, Jared Goff is just blonde Mitch, but he had a core intact that made Sean McVay look pretty damn smart for a year. Sounds familiar, somehow. Also, we have a Big Dick Nick sighting, as America’s favorite cocksman was the godawful Rams QB of the week!

Also, James Laurinaitis was on this team! The son of BIG JOHNNY himself! This game took place years after the John Laurinaitis/CM Punk feud, but I’d still like to think the Bears won this one for Phil Brooks as well as themselves. Even though CM Punk ignored me when I yelled “HEY YOU’RE CM PUNK” while reeking of weed walking down North Avenue last spring, I still believe in CM Punk, and I think Zach Miller knew in his heart that breaking two tackles and racing down the field to score was basically hitting a Go To Sleep in the heart of one disappointed father.

It’s narratives like that, ones that I’ve just totally made up, that provide the much needed subtext to make this game between two shitty teams mean something to you in 2019. Zach Miller, CM Punk, John Fox, what does it mean? Well, for one, it means the Bears aren’t winning jack shit anytime soon.

We’ve already seen Todd Gurley break down, and the 2018 Rams lost all their momentum near the end of the regular season. The then red-hot Bears exposed the weaknesses Goff and friends had on primetime, and Sean McVay no longer looks like the greatest coach in the history of coaching. It’s entirely fatalistic and somewhat reasonable to suggest that Matt and Mitch are already at 2019 levels of McVay/Goff regression, with less to put on their resumes. It’s eerie to look at these two teams in 2015 and see foreshadowing somehow, but it’s there and it’s hideous.

Everything Else

Welcome back #Vaultgang to another edition of THE VAULT, my weekly podcast- in blog form! Every week I take a look back at a game between our perennially disappointing Bears and whatever team they’re playing this week, but get this- I look at an old matchup! It’s super relevant to all of us, I know.

I wanted to talk about Bears/Eagles, but honestly I’m getting tired of bringing up the 1998-2009 teams as much as I have so I’m switching it up today and I’m sure as shit not talking about last January’s playoff game. The Fog Bowl, played on New Years Eve 1988, took place two years and a few months after I was born, so it’s probably even less vivid for me than it was for the players on the field that day. While looking at the pictures I was totally like “woah this looks like weed smoke lol” and then instantly was like “I should write about weed lol”and so here we are.

Beloved #Vaultgang member, I don’t drink. There’s some addictive genes in my septic tank that I call my DNA, and I’ve always been swamped with extra work for most of my adult Bears fandom life, so I’ve naturally preferred the loving embrace of weed instead. I’ve got my medical card, so what I’d like to do is prepare you, the Bears fan and maybe casual pot smoker, for Illinois legalization to help you find the strains to best enhance your gameday experience. Basically I’d like to be a shot lady that you’d see at the bar but with one hitters at your tailgates. Since the Bears will be out of the playoff hunt and you’ll be looking at marijuana to assist you in your playoff football watching, here’s-

The Vault Guide to Football and Weed:

Durban Poison: This South African strain is now most likely grown in greenhouses that are administered by people named “Moonbeam”, which is kinda cool I guess. Durban Poison is a heavy sativa. Smoke it and you’ll be productive, creative, and want to go outside. It’s a great first half weed for Bears fans, when things seem optimistic and fun, and hey if the Bears start to suck you can always take a nature walk. Since the Bears won’t be in the playoffs this year, feel free to light up some Durban Poison and take the dog for a super long walk when whatever bullshit team emerges from the AFC South to get fed to the Patriots or Chiefs and goes down by 21 in the first quarter. Sorry, Jacoby Brissett.

Katsu Bubba Kush: With a super high THC content, this heavy ass indica will knock you on your ass. I smoked it immediately after the Bears loss on Sunday and sunk deep into the couch, unconcerned with my fantasy team also taking a shellacking in the late games. Felt great to erase the bad taste that the Bears game left in my mouth and instead replace it with weed that tastes like paradise. This isn’t quite “sad bastard weed” that will leave you lazily listening to Fleetwood Mac and thinking about rolling joints with Ashley, your high school girlfriend who’s parents worked till late, but it will most certainly make you eat as much as your 16 year old ass did when you got home and raided the pantry before taking an entire box of cereal to your basement bedroom.

Cheese and Chong: Oh I get it, like the actors! Fuckin hilarious, guys. Whoever names weed must also name craft beer and think they get bonus points for naming their beers after Stooges songs as if those songs aren’t all 60 years old already. This weed smells like “oh shit even if I hide it in the trunk if I get pulled over I’m fucked” weed. It’s a hybrid on the sativa side, apparently used for motivation and daytime pain relief, and for our purposes it’s a great Super Bowl strain. Fire up a joint of this shit at your Super Bowl party and all of a sudden everyone loves all the commercials during the game. They say it tastes like fancy cheese when smoked. To me it tastes like weed but it’ll sure as shit have you standing by the food spread throughout most of halftime, which is fine because I like both J-Lo and Shakira, but their collective hips will still be telling the truth if you choose to watch it on Youtube later.

Dead Cherries: I guess this is some proprietary strain, which means it was designed, sold, and made by one company? Harsh tokes, man. This shit is fire and will knock you on your ass, it’s the perfect “rainy Sunday” weed. It hit me so hard at first it made me feel like… well, super high. Maybe too high. I smoked some of this during the Chiefs/Packers game and was like “damn, maybe Andy Reid was right to punt the ball”. Basically, this shit will turn you into a terrible coach. Don’t smoke Dead Cherries if you have any logistical decisions you have to make for the next couple hours.

Throughout the year I’ll be including weed flavors for you to use during upcoming Bears games, and if you like what you read pitch in to my football/weed fund on Patreon under the name xXxBearsFan42069xXx.

Oh, also, don’t smoke weed and drive. You suck at it.

Football

Welcome back to THE VAULT, the much celebrated weekly history column where I try to remember why I still care about this team in spite of the many heartbreaks they’ve given me. I’m going to spend these next couple weeks while I’m between jobs rewriting Kanye’s magnum opus “808s and Heartbreaks” to make it about the Bears, so look for me in the FFUD “Album of the Week” section crooning over some reverb-drenched synths. My version of “Love Lockdown” is gonna be about Nathan Vasher. Million dollar idea right there.

Potential album titles:
“85 Bears and Tears” (doesn’t rhyme but I’ll make it work)
“Jim Miller is a Homophobic Idiot” (true but not as catchy)
“One Night Stands and Josh Bellamy’s Hands” (there it is)

2003, week 9 of the NFL season. The Bears limped in to this home tilt against the San Diego Chargers at 3-5, and the Chargers somehow hobbled into Soldier Field at 1-7. Bear in mind this Chargers team had Drew Brees at QB and LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield, with noted PED user and future “Crime in Sports” episode subject David Boston lining up outside next to perennial “undersized with a big heart white WR” Tim Dwight. Tim Dwight was always one of those wideouts that announcers described as “a student of the game/a gym rat/sneaky fast” which for some reason are only superlatives given to white wideouts. Whereas receivers who are nonwhite are always considered “freak athletes.” It’s weird.

Casual racial bias aside, the wildest thing about this game is the fact that DREW FUCKING BREES was benched in this game for DOUG FUCKING FLUTIE, who massively outperformed the QB who would go on to define this generation (screw Tom Brady, he’s just the best system QB of all time- Brees is the GOAT). It’s almost a fever dream to think about a Bears team led by Chris Chandler, Anthony Thomas, and David Terrell sticking it to the Chargers with two future Hall of Famers in their backfield so severely that they thought it prudent to bring in Doug Flutie.

The 2003 Bears were, you guessed it, a fucking mess. The QB carousel featured the aforementioned Chris Chandler coming in to start for Kordell Stewart for his 3rd game in a row. The 2003 Bears had hotshot Rex “Sex Cannon” Grossman on the bench as a rookie, which is kind of like having the opportunity to re-watch a movie knowing how the tragedy is going to unfold. They also drafted useless defensive lineman Michael Haynes in that first round. After that nightmare first round, they picked up Charles Tillman in the 2nd and Lance Briggs in the 3rd, which is almost “Sayers-Butkus” levels of draft success. As much as it sucks to see that the Bears could’ve drafted Troy Polamalu instead of Haynes, at least they didn’t pull a Detroit Lions and draft Charles Rogers with the 2nd overall pick, he of the multiple failed drug tests. Fun Charles Rogers fact: three career failed drug tests, four career receiving touchdowns. Trust me, I’m not trying to shit on a dude that would’ve maybe had a chance in the NFL a few years from now, when players are finally allowed to use marijuana to help with pain relief. I feel bad for those players who can’t medicate with something that isn’t a habit-forming painkiller that actually shortens people’s lives.

The Bears went on to hold off the Flutie-led Chargers 20-7, keeping LT to a measly 82 total yards on 16 carries and four catches. Drew Brees went 7-15 for 49 yards and an interception in this game, with his pick lobbed into the hands of Charles Tillman before Peanut was suplexed to the ground by the aforementioned David Boston, who looks like those cat memes where people sketch in preposterous muscles on pics of napping kitties. Tillman also downed a punt at the 1-yard line, which is always a play that gets me going. His downed punt led to a game-sealing interception of Flutie by Jerry Azumah, a regular here in THE VAULT.

Anthony Thomas led the team with 31 carries (!), 111 yards, and two scores. Honestly, as bad as those teams were, it’s refreshing to watch the old highlight videos of the Bears lining up in the I-Formation and running up the middle with success, instead of watching the offense line up in the shotgun and send the smallest player on the roster up the gut on 1st and 10 when the other team has 36 men in the box. David Terrell and Dez White each had seven catches, which would be a career day for most of the players on the 2019 squad. Bobby Wade, Justin Gage, and even my all-time favorite Bears undersized useless WR Ahmad Merritt caught a pass from Chris Chandler. Man, I miss Ahmad Merritt, who didn’t do anything in the NFL but was a BEAST in NFL Europe, catching 6 TDs for the Berlin Thunder. What a weird fucking sentence.

The Bears in 2003 finished 7-9, before finishing 5-11 in 2004 with what is considered one of the worst offenses in NFL history. Welcome to heartbreak.

Everything Else Football

Welcome back to THE VAULT, where I revisit some of the best vintage games our beloved Bears have played against whatever team they match up against this week.

The Bears don’t have an opponent this weekend, but I’m trying so hard to make THE VAULT indispensable; think of me as Matt Nagy, and THE VAULT as Cordarrelle Patterson. THE VAULT KNOWS NO BYE WEEKS. I’m picturing Matt Nagy and Patterson this week in an otherwise empty Halas Hall, practicing 5 yard outs in the darkness.

So, let’s talk bye weeks. Bye weeks were brought to the NFL in 1990, supposedly to give players the chance to rest, but also to provide more TV revenue, since they were restructuring their contracts with the networks. Good to see how important player safety is, y’all.

What’s your Bye-Week tradition? I feel like what someone does on the Sunday their favorite team is off tells me more about someone’s fandom than what they do during the games themselves. So, pick your “My Team is Off This Week” trope from the guide below:

Family Time: You’ve been spending your Sundays on the couch, and your significant other is begging you to do all the fun fall stuff that you ignore every year. Go to the pumpkin patch, take the kids mini golfing, go to Bath and Body Works and smell all the candles for free? Do you, friend. Family time rules.

Fantasy Dork: You still park your ass on the couch and watch RedZone for SEVEN COMMERCIAL FREE HOURS, listening to Scott Hanson slowly lose his mind and get too excited to call a Raheem Mostert one yard touchdown during the late games because nobody has scored in 32 minutes of real time. Also, if anyone knows where I can find recordings of those tasty riffs they play while running highlights let me know. I’ll pay Hansonly.

Any Football is Cool: You’ll watch whatever national game is in your viewing network. I swear, it was football hell growing up and watching whatever game was on Fox while CBS showed the World Bull Riding Championships or whatever. Now that I’m an adult, I gladly pay extra to not have to spend my afternoons watching Minnesota play Detroit and hoping for James Brown to jump in and tell me the Dolphins are now down by 31.

The “Cultured Fan”: You watch playoff baseball, NBA games, shit you’ll even watch golf? You must hate your family.

The Space Cadet: You have spent so many Sundays (and Mondays… and Thursdays) ignoring your responsibilities, it’s time to catch up. Fuck football for a day, you haven’t caught up on your grading, or you haven’t played guitar in weeks, or your dog needs to get in some kickass dog park hangs before it gets too cold.

Helping Hand: Mow the lawn, clean the basement, prune the tree. Today is the day that you make up for all the stuff you’ve been forgetting to do on the list. It doesn’t have to be all bad, make it fun! Walk around and see what needs to be done and yell at it like Chris Jericho. Tell that pile of leaves it just made the list!

Full Hesher: Do like my pal Nick does and go to a Bills bar and get blackout drunk. I feel like if I really wanted to just say fuck it and tie one on, Bills fans would be the ones I’d do it with. The Bears being on bye seems like the best time to get put through a table.

Binge Watching: You’ve missed a lot of great television while opting to watch Matt Nagy be himself on Sundays/Mondays/Thursdays. You’re gonna spend your Sunday catching up on, uh, actually I don’t know if there’s anything good on since I pretty much only watch sports these days. I’m fucking lame.

I’m gonna be honest, I’ll be watching RedZone. Fuck it, I might as well enjoy some good football this week. I’ll spend my morning listening to fantasy football stuff as I cook lunch, and enjoy the bye. I’m not inviting a damn soul over, I am going to sit on my ass and just love watching football.

Loving the Bears is fucking stressful, we all need a week off too.

Football

The Vault: Chicago vs Washington, 2001

Welcome back to THE VAULT, the place where I wax nostalgic over players that eventually let us all down in one way or another (save for Peanut Tillman, he could never let me down). The overarching theme of these so far has been “remember this time the Bears sucked?”, so today I’ll highlight a win from a Bears team that had a strikingly similar vibe to the team that the field in 2018. Seriously, look at the 2001 and 2018 Bears side by side. They each had:

-Dalton-Line level quarterback play given their respective eras
-A young defense that just absolutely wrecks shit
-An inability to sweep the Packers
-Offensive players who were useless in fantasy football
-A young, potentially dominant middle linebacker
-A free safety known for defensive touchdowns
-Beaten in the playoffs at home by the Eagles

The 2001 Bears were the first squad that really gave me hope. It was destiny: the back-to-back Mike Brown overtime walk-off pick sixes were only two of the five comeback wins that season. Jerry Azumah was about to be Devin Hester before Devin Hester was a thing, and Anthony Thomas ran for over 1100 yards, which looks like a typo but I swear is accurate. Looking at the Bears offense in 2001 is awful, but we’re two weeks into 2019 and I don’t want to watch current game tape because it’s SO SO SO BAD, so not much has changed.

A lot of the 2001 team is etched into my memory. I won an award in 2016 that the Bears sponsored, so when I won they asked me who my favorite Bear of all time was. Out of the 16 teachers that won, there were three players listed: Brian Urlacher, Walter Payton, and Mike Brown. Guess which one I picked. I really do believe Mike Brown could’ve been Ed Reed if he stayed healthy, because he was always around the ball. Book it: the Bears win Super Bowl XLI if Mike Brown doesn’t get hurt in the Arizona comeback game and Daniel Manning isn’t put back there and toasted to a crisp by Peyton Manning. Tony Parrish used to lay motherfuckers out, and Rosevelt Colvin looked like an all-time great pass rushing LB. It was literally impossible to run up the middle on this defense, sporting 700 lbs of combined BEEF between Keith Traylor and Ted Washington. Just looking at the defense lined up on Youtube today looks downright goofy with all that space those two managed to occupy. It’s also weird to see the 4-3 look so good, since the NFL seemed to make the switch wholesale to 3-4 being the dominant defensive front a few years after this season.

This shit-ass offense managed to beat Washington in 2001, but it took Brian Urlacher’s first ever offensive touchdown on a pass from the illustrious Brad Maynard on a fake field goal to push the Bears to a win. The box score tells you all you need to know about this game:

Jim Miller: 13/26, 98 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT- 59.3 QB rating
Brad fuckin Maynard: 1/1, 27 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT- 158.3 QB rating

Brian Urlacher was the second leading receiver for the Bears in this game, but the defense managed to sack Tony Banks six times and force two fumbles. This was the second of four straight wins for the 2001 Bears, a streak that took them straight into the woodchipper against the Eagles in the playoffs as demolition crews sat outside Soldier Field to begin renovations. I heard totally unfounded rumors years later that the Bears were paid to throw the game so construction could start (I’m pretty sure the dude who told me that was wearing a Korn shirt so take that shit with an entire shaker of salt), but if there’s anything that could undermine a team as fated for the Lombardi Trophy as the 2001 Bears were, it would be Chicago political graft.

To end on a positive note: two weeks after this game the Bears played the Jaguars, and Keith Traylor returned an interception 67 yards. No politician, regardless of how corrupt they are, could ever take that from us.