Bernstein: Today, We Are All Meatballs

By Dan Bernstein–

Resistance is futile.

As the clock ticked down to the Bears’ victory over Seattle and the NFC Championship date with the Packers became reality, I committed to growing a Ditka mustache by morning.

One advisor suggested I could accelerate the process by watching “The Blues Brothers” on a loop, and applying giardinera to my upper lip every ten minutes, stopping only to eat deep-dish pizza.

No luck, sadly, but the fact is clear: those of us who have downplayed the significance of the rivalry had better update our programs for the week. This is going to be epic, and it’s going to bring out every last bit of combative cliché elicited by a history that legendary Packers PR man Lee Remmel first called “primordial.”

National political leaders are asking us to lower the heat of public discourse, softening our rhetoric in a climate of fringe instability.

Wait a week, or at least grant an exemption to Illinois and Wisconsin. (Or realize that a healthy channeling of inflamed emotions through local pro sports is part of the solution)

The Bears/Packers circus has become trite and forced during the regular season, with fans, writers and broadcasters going through the motions and players trying to say the right things, or avoid saying the wrong ones. Back in September, I tried to sum up this feeling, pointing to the combined effects of interconnectedness, fantasy football, and higher postseason expectations. At the risk of solipsistic self-quoting:

“Games matter for actual, valid reasons, like divisional-race importance and home-field playoff advantage. Games are big on an NFL schedule when two good teams meet with something at stake. ‘Big’ is earned more through quality, now, not merely history. Even here.”

So a meeting at Soldier Field for a Super Bowl trip qualifies, I guess.

It really does have everything, too. Each team has a rising-star quarterback, at least one all-time-great defender, rebuilt offensive line and one victory in this year’s two matchups. Each team smacked around its latest playoff foe as if in a hurry to get to this point.

All the hackneyed activity is, for now, validated. It’s real, and it’s worth it.

We laugh at the goofy fans that try too hard and care too much – the weirdo with the taxidermed-bear hat and painted face, the guy with the Bears-themed car, the bar owner putting up signs that “enemy” patrons are unwelcome, and the crass effigy in the foyer of the Brat Stop. And we’ll always shake our heads at the crazies and drunks that actually fight over such things, or worse, take out frustrations on friends or family.

But if you can’t find a way to get into this, somehow — Bears and Packers playing in Chicago for a trip to Dallas — what’s the point?

Does this Butkus jersey make me look fat?

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Larry Horse's Arse


    • Bob Loblaw


      I love’s my Bears! Love’s my Bears!

  • Lovie's Shiny Chin Scar


  • General Soreness

    Well put, Bernstein. I was dreaming of this matchup after the Pack took down the Eagles. Now the cards have fallen into place and it is a REALITY. All of my friends were texting yesterday, saying that while they were happy that the Bears advance, they were worried about the Pack, especially after their stomping of the Falcons. All I can say is….it’s a different game outside, at Soldier Field, in January than in a heated dome. Should be one for the ages. GO BEARS!!!!!

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      You got that right General…the dome in Atlanta is a far cry from Soldier Field on January 23.

  • Big Cat


  • Chris in Scottsdale

    I only saw half of the 4th quarter. I was relegated to radio as it took us an hour to get out of the parking garage after the PF Chang’s Half-Marathon out here yesterday. Rest assured, I’m not going to let ANYTHING keep me from watching this weekend.

    But this… just feels… good. Real good.

  • Harlin S. Neal

    Well Bernstein…I remember you saying the Bears didn’t have anything to play for in week 17 when the Bears played the Packers in Lambeau. Even though I didn’t call nor correspond with you, I did feel it was the right thing for the Bears to play their starters because even though there’s “nothing to play for” at the time…a possible meeting between the Bears and Packers for the NFC Championship could happen. Now…it’s reality. And as excited as I am to see the teams play for the biggest prize in the conference, I’m hoping Bears/Packers part III doesn’t turn into a “Cheese-fest”. It’s one thing if the Bears lose the NFC Championship…it’s something else if they lose that game to those damn Packers.

    The Bears could’ve taken out the Packers when they had the chance about a month ago. Now…let’s pray it doesn’t come back to bite.

  • Meatless Meatball

    Does anybody else think that the end-of-game offense was Martz having some fun and seeing if his guys could handle some of the stuff he tried to do early in the season? There were a handful of five- and seven-step drops, along with that ridiculous direct snap to Forte… it all seemed a little weird, as if Martz was calling plays that he knew his offense either couldn’t handle or hadn’t previously handled well.


      Yeah, the game really was out of reach by halftime.
      What are the probabilities of that Tillman tip gets caught in the endzone?
      There were guys missing throws in the clear and on the numbers yesterday in both games.
      Not G-Reg, though. niz.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Yeah…that “Wildcat” to Forte was the strangest call of all.
      Good insight there Meatless Meatball.


    “Rick Mears!”

    What happens to the giant pile of salt during a wintry mix?

    I think we’re in for four quarters.

    New garage door opener. Please come soon. Four or five days ago, I was beating on the track with a hammer like a caveman, because the hook was jammed.
    I tink Charles Tillman should be da mayor!
    da BEARS!

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    This was in an article on

    “There is a lot more made of it than really there should be,” Bears defensive end Julius Peppers said. “You can put all that stuff on the exterior but you’ve got to execute. It’s not going to come down to all of the Hall of Famers in the past. It’s about what these guys in this locker room do.”

    I get it, and I understand… but I’m also sure Julius got caught up when he was playing hoop against Duke.

  • AT3374

    Ditka …sausages..Ditka ..Terry Lombardi …. Ditka

  • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    This is going to be Meatball week on the Score, its going to be great radio. I rally hope we jam it wright up GBs @ss. BEARS


    FOX Sports bosses in Los Angeles are not only salivating about the Packers/Bears’ NFC Championship game next Sunday at Soldier Field, but they’re going to pull out all the stops to turn the third meeting of the NFL’s oldest matchup into “Entertainment Tonight”. From the most recent “American Idol” in Mount Prospect’s Lee Dewyze singing the National Anthem to sightings of “The Dilemma’s” Vince Vaughn, Chicago’s own Jennifer Beals, star of the upcoming FOX cop show “The Chicago Code”, Bill & Giuliana Rancic, and other Chicago-based celebrities at the game. You know that’s coming, even before FOX heads down to Arlington, TX next month for Super Bowl XLV.

    As for yesterday, for the most part, Jay Cutler didn’t look like a nervous wreck starting his first NFL playoff game. I wish Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz steered clear from the puzzling, idiotic Matt Forte wildcat pass.

    • Deeewyze

      Where is this info from?

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Shark is omniscient in all things tv/radio.

      • Deeewyze

        Thanks, I was under the impression CBS was broadcasting and not FOX

  • 2nd Half Adjustments

    Bearsss. Line stuntz. Bearsss.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Anyone else look at StubHub this morning? It’s pretty obscene.

  • Lovie's Shiny Chin Scar

    Bearssss!!! Polish Sausage!!! Ditka!!!

  • Ugly Pelosi

    No mention of another costly personal foul by Kreutz!! Hope this is the last year of his tired act. He’s getting verrrry long in the tooth.


      Well, I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of “new” old number 57, but that foul (run-of-the-mill-shoulder shrug) came after the guy clearly pushed someone’s helmet into the turf. The second guy gets the call.
      Good thing it didn’t matter, though. Could have been the difference in a close game.

      On a side note, I really hope those two Seahawks are all right. Those hits were bad.

  • Barney Frank's Poolboy

    How fiting!! The 25th Anniversary of Da Bearzzzz. We MUST go to Dallas! Can’t lose to the Cheddars. This is for all the bragginbg rights. F GB!!!

  • Tim in LaPorte IN

    All of this is so true. So many fans and media members have downplayed the “big” Packers/Bears rivalry for several years now. It’s now back! You think the Jets/Patriots or Ravens/Steelers was nuts. Just wait til you hear the stories of the fans during and after next Sunday’s NFC Championship game. For the first time in a long time, Bears/Packers means not only something, but everything to both franchises and their fans!

  • Steve from Bolingbrook

    I predict that the Bears will win 70 to -3 my friend. The only bad think about this coming Sunday is that my doctor said I have to limit my sausage intake to less than 10,000 grams. In all seriousness, as fans, let’s just have fun and enjoy the ride!

    • Pantless all week

      Most definitely and pants are optional this week …

  • Rick

    Great win boys but I about lost my mind with that option pass up 28-3 with lots of time left in our own territory. I also wasn’t a fan of the 4th and 1 up 7-0, I would have taken the 3 points. You cannot continue to be a stupid sideline coach and win a superbowl and that is what scares me about this team. Lovie’s game management has been terrible.

    • Tim in LaPorte IN

      First of all, the options pass was Mike Martz’s decision and I agree it was absolutely terrible!! But the 4th down isn’t really a bad decision by Lovie. If it was 4th and 3 or something like that, I’d agree with you. But you only needed about a foot. I would go for that every time with a 7 point lead! Especially if you have confidence in your defense and special teams which the Bears should. The defense and special teams should get the ball back to you in GREAT field postion if you don’t make it on 4th down and then you’re basically in the same position you were with still a 7 point lead. Lovie coached a very good game this time.

  • puddin' head

    Rick..the bears won.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Heading to the storage unit to furiously rummage in search of my Zubaz.

    • General Soreness

      You didn’t pay up for the storage last month so I won all of your possessions in a bid. The Zubaz are mine!!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

  • Bloomington Bill

    Dan: Great thoughts! Forget Dallas—This Sunday is the Super Bowl!!!!

    • Tim in LaPorte IN

      This Sunday is NOT the Superbowl!! If you’re really telling us that you would be happy with the Bears winning this Sunday and then losing in Superbowl XLV, you’re not a “true” fan. Just sayin!! I didn’t have high expectations going in to this season, but now that we’ve come this far, I won’t be satifsfied without a Superbowl victory!

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Yes, but it’s fair to look at it this way: Either Bear or Packer fans will have TWO Super Bowls this year.

  • WillKill

    Lets all remain focus… Great game by our beloved but now these next two games the coaching staff must call the games of their lives, the players must play the games of their live’s… In the words of the great Payton, “Lets kick ass and let it all hang out”!! Lets go BEARS remain focus and hungry!!!!

  • AT3374

    Great week for our chicago teams and now Bret Farve is finally retiring ..Oh happy dayyyyyy !!!

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