Bernstein: Anthem Issue A Little Crazy

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?

I don’t.

(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?

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Aw c’mon Danny.
    I thought today you’d focus on the SI investigation of Lance One-Nut.

  • Lance's other Nut

    You leave me outta this!

  • Denver Smeghead

    I don’t really care one way or the other. But let’s face it, while DeWyze is a local product, he was getting the gig because of Fox wanting to push “American Idol”.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Totally correct Smeg.
      I hate the network plugs..but they pay most of the freight.
      Danny said last evening, when Hub was on, that the Bears must have pulled some strings with Fox to get them to do this.
      I think the Idol kid is now the halftime show???

  • Larry

    The only noticeable impact of having Jim Cornelison showcase his tenor stylings is that it will make the hometown fans, in the stands or in front of the warm glow of their T.V. sets, a little more excited about the game. However, as somebody who tunes in to the Super Bowl and the Conference Championships to watch a football game, I detest the way those games have been glammed up with way too long half-time shows and blatant promotion of every near celebrity with a tie to whichever network is airing the game, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to see that the Bears actually got some say in how they will go about hosting Sunday’s game. It’s a little thing to be sure, but I’ll take my warm-fuzzies wherever I can get them.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    I can’t believe we’ve already spent this much time talking about and listening about who sings the Star Spangled Banner. That’s what gets me- have we gotten so crazy and inundated by Wednesday morning that we’re analyzing the National Anthem singer?

    Ah well… heck with it. Viva la Meatball!

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Since we are going Total Meatball for the game…Cornelison is My Guy for the Anthem.

  • Mark J

    Dan – Why do you feel sorry for this guy? I understand that it would be frustrating if someone told me I was going to be able to do something then they say oh nevermind you don’t anymore.But I feel that it works out better for him because he now gets to play during halftime with is a better gig than the national anthem. He can play a few songs of his own, hoping to draw interest from the millions of veiwers.

    • Meatless Meatball

      Agreed. 60,000 people will now know who Lee DeWyze is, thus giving him 59,987 more listeners than he’s had since his “American Idol” tenure.

      • Marlee

        You dont know DeWyze fans! Lee had a great show at Arlington Park in September. Oveer 20,000!!! fans enjoyed the concert. He also toured all summer with the Idol Live show, over 50 venues including the Untied Center! Lets give Lee the HOMETOWN respect he deserves -He’s our local guy who beat over 100,000 contestants to win the biggest singing contest in the world! He’s also a great Bears fan and his band was the house Band last year for the Chicago Huddle TV show!
        I’m glad the Bears found a way to work this out. Lee has been very gracious thru all this – there’s been so much undeserved Hate thrown at him! He replied to it by saying how he’s just happy to be singing at the game! Lets give Lee Big Cheers for Lee at 1/2 time!

    • Jay's Insulin Pump

      Great point, Mark. I wouldn’t buy someone’s CD based on an Anthem performance.

      Plus he’s getting free tickets (and on-field access) to the most sought after sporting event in Chicago sports history. As a Bears fan, I think he’ll get over it.

  • AnneS

    I agree..I am pumped that Jim Cornelison is singing the nat’l anthem again. So what if it may not effect the outcome of the game? It can’t hurt, right?
    It was magical last week, on tv. I can’t imagine what those Bears players were feeling there on the field.

    In addition to fans shutting their mouths during offensive efforts…this too gets filed under “It can’t hurt”.

  • Jay's Insulin Pump

    Just saw a video of him doing the Anthem at Lakers/Celtics Finals Game 2. So-so performance, but no presence whatsoever.

    Every time I hear Corneilison sing nowadays, it reminds me of the Hawks winning the cup. Last weekend before the Seattle game, I was reminded of how close the Bears are to winning a Championship too. Pure positive association coupled with a booming voice like that. No comparison, Lee never stood a chance.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      The Cubs should just offer him 81 gigs this summer.

  • AnneS

    oh, and I hate American Idol..sorry. Don’t feel bad for the guy, he has a half time performance now anyway. (and I am a very empathetic person…to heck with Fox)

  • wheelingdad

    In unrelated news, I am sure we are all sad to hear that Milton Bradley was arrested last night on a felony charge. He was released on a 50,000 bond.
    The article I just read did not mention what he was charged with. Probably more news to come later.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      He allegedly threatened a woman.

      • Denver Smeghead

        I’m sure the Cubs are somehow to blame.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        When MB was with the Cubs he threatened to hit, but never did.

  • Vuc

    If we are going b@lls out, meatball mode, we might as well have Mike North sing the anthem.

  • Beardy McWierdington

    North would be the Meatball of all Meatballs, get you giardinnara covered sneakers ready.

  • Milwaukee Murf

    This just in……Cornelison will sing the nation anthem for the Bears/ Pack and DeWyze will sing at half time. I heard it this morning on Comcast. I now predict a Bears win. LOL


    I think it’s beyond absurd that we’re now making more of who will sing the National Anthem prior to arguably the biggest Chicago sports event in a long, long time. This morning, FOX32 sent Patrick Elwood on “Good Day Chicago” to one of those local restaurants to gaze fan reaction to Jim Cornelison supplanting “American Idol” winner Lee Dewyze to perform the Anthem prior to the NFC Championship game. While Cornelison is on “The Danny Mac Show” in the final hour this afternoon, we should be focusing on how to contain red hot Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, how Bears’ QB Jay Cutler can do better than what he did in the Week 17 game, etc. The focus should be on football, not on who’s singing the Star Spangled Banner. We’re better than this.

    • Denver Smeghead

      We’re also not the ones playing the game, so it really doesn’t matter what we say, think, or do right now.

      • Mark J

        I completely agree with Smeghead… Plus there is only so much pre-game talk you can have before it simply gets redundant / annoying (especially when idiots call in thinking they know everything about football when in fact they barely know jack).

  • bronzo

    I think it is great …and anybody who has ever expierienced the anthem at the stadium / united center ( chris is scottsdale have you?) will attest it is truly awesome.. in every sense of the word. Plus it’s fun to watch …and isn’t that what this is all about??

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Bronzo- not since 1994 at a Bulls game… and I couldn’t even begin to tell you who sang it. That was half my life ago :)

  • bronzo

    Its’ a little differnt at hawks games than bulls games …I too went to games back then Chris …I’m 47 years old. Watch the anthem on Sunday you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Amen…totally electric.

  • Denver Deadite

    Not that anybody outside of LHA cares, but I keep telling myself to change my apparently-unacceptable-for-air handle.

    So, here it is. Internet cosmetics at their finest.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      You’ll always be Smeg to us! LOL!

      • Denver Deadite

        Well, if it helps, I remain a professional ____-stirrer. :)

  • James Steever

    Can two teams “jump the shark” by using the same anthem singer? I think so. Don’t get me wrong— love the tradition and the feeling of seeing Jim Cornelison (or Patrick Blackwell or Wayne Messmer) singing the Anthem at Blackhawks games. But at Soldier Field? Not the same. What’s next? Chelsea Dagger after a touchdown?

    Only in Chicago can we take a great tradition and run it into the ground. Fail.

    • Bob in San Diego

      Chicago is not the only town. I remember during the 90’s that fans at Falcon games would do the Tomahak chop. Wait . . . you said great tradition.

  • bronzo

    I’m unoffendable (if that’s a word?) I alwys liked the Smeg reference myself.

  • meesohawnee

    ……and this just in.. Its your fault whitey cub fans Milton is in trouble again..shame on you guys.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Should I send MB a hand-written apology note for my causing him to go off?

  • Glockster

    I would like to have Cornelison than some other guy, but saying that it makes a material difference in the game is a dicey case at best.

    My dad loves to complain whenever an anthem singer sings it in a way which is not to his approval, which seems to be just about everybody these days. My reply to him is always the same: two minutes after it’s over, nobody cares anymore.


    It seems like whenever the Bulls play one of the many bad teams in David Stern’s NBA, they play down to their competition and lose a game they really should win. Despite 33 from Derrick Rose to lead all scorers, the Bulls seemed to play sluggish and sloppy basketball in an 83-82 home loss to the Bobcats at United Center last night. The Bulls shot only 39.5% from the field, turned it over 14 times and resulted in 25 Charlotte points as the Bobcats beat the Bulls for the second time in less than a week. The Bulls will get some national attention tomorrow night on TNT vs. the Mavericks on the West Side, but these slow starts and playing without much energy have got to stop right now! The Bulls don’t play another road game until a rematch vs. Vinny Del Negro and the Clippers in Los Angeles February 2nd to start a 5-game road trip out West. They better snap out of this funk, and I don’t mean PBP voice Neil Funk either!

    • Mark J

      “That’s your point gaurd Neil Funk!”

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Didn’t see this on tv but have read that the ever classy John Calipari cursed out a Freshman player last night during KY’s loss to Alabama.

    I thought he only cursed out players when they turn in homework they themselves actually did.

  • Peter Scolari's Disfunction

    I wonder how Wayne Messmer feels about all this? He was the bigvoiceanthem guy and then the hawks replace him. A Cup victory later and now there’s nothing Messmer can do to top Cornelison’s version. Only a World Series anthem performance for the Cubs can raise the ante.

  • John 'THE ROCK' Mamola

    “is that daddy’s blog?”

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