By Dan Bernstein–
It’s a good thing that most Blackhawks fans also love the Bears.
Were that not the case, the borrowing of Jim Cornelison’s tenor stylings would be seen as a hijacking – an unconscionable betrayal of loyalty, a watering down of a great tradition. Chicago’s most insular, clannish sports subculture would grumble, at the least.
But, thankfully, it’s all good. The Hawks’ designated anthem voice and their cheer-from-the-first-note interpretation were not only welcomed for the playoff opener against Seattle, both have been celebrated madly since: clips of the performance are sizzling on YouTube, and fans reacted negatively when it was announced that “American Idol” winner Lee DeWyze would do the honors before the game this Sunday.
It was important enough, apparently, that the Bears leaned on the NFL and Fox, who control such things at this stage of the postseason. Cornelison was reinstalled yesterday afternoon, with DeWyze pushed back to a halftime performance.
The Score’s Hub Arkush added to the legend Monday and yesterday, when he described the Seahawks as they took in the scene before the game. The veteran NFL observer – stationed on the Seattle sideline — believes the weight of the moment dropped acutely on the visitors as the snow swirled and the fighter jets roared, and they were emotionally tenderized for the feast soon to come.
I’ll allow for a bit of such romanticism, but I think the more reasonable deciding factor was the Seahawks being far worse at football than the Bears.
There’s nothing wrong with the fans wanting the hometown guy, or enjoying a more raucous build-up to the most anticipated kickoff ever in Chicago, but do you really think there will be any actual intimidation of the Green Bay Packers?
(And though I have never seen nor heard Lee DeWyze [he could walk into the room and I would have no idea who he is], I feel a little sorry for a Chicago-area native who was initially asked to do the honors, only to be disinvited because the Bears are trying to please the same fans that won’t even quiet down while their team is trying to communicate on offense)
Any possible effect, either motivational or disheartening, could be mitigated, too, by the number of Green Bay fans in attendance. Some opportunistic ticket-holders cannot be begrudged the decision to take the cash, and there are cheesers all too willing to forego mortgage payments, food, or their kids’ medical care to attend the game.
Cornelison, it should be noted, sang the anthem for this year’s home opener against Detroit. Perhaps he caused the counterintuitive rule interpretation that nullified Calvin Johnson’s game-winning touchdown.
He also electrified the Soldier Field crowd on October 24, before the Bears played the Redskins.
How’d that go?