By Dave Wischnowsky–
Just like plenty of other Polish sausage-eating, Walter Payton-worshiping, Green Bay-loathing Windy City football fans, Mark Franzen doesn’t just love the Chicago Bears.
He lives the Chicago Bears.
So much so that, while growing up in Wheaton, the 31-year-old pigskin addict watched a VHS tape of the Bears’ 46-10 victory over New England in Super Bowl XX that he wore the thing out.
“The tape faded over time,” Franzen explained this week. “So, as a Christmas gift this year my brother gave me a DVD of that game, and I forced my new wife to watch it as I explained what the players are doing now in their lives.
“My wife is a very patient woman.”
These days, the only difference between Franzen and his fellow Bears-loving brethren in Illinois – many of whom no doubt have wives that can claim similar sainthood this week – is that he’s now forced to follow “The Beloved” from about 800 miles southeast of Soldier Field in Richmond, Va., where Franzen now lives and works.
But if you think a little issue like geography is going to keep Franzen from watching the Bears sack the Packers right alongside his family and friends – who are spread across the map – well, think again.
“I’m in Virginia, my friends are in Naperville and my parents are out in the Rockford area,” Franzen said. “But we’re all going to jump on Skype and synchronize our DVRs on Sunday so we can watch the game together.”
Franzen said that, including himself, his wife and his in-laws in Virginia, his parents, siblings and sister-in-law in the Rockford area, and up to a dozen friends in Naperville, he’ll have as many as 25 people in three farflung locations all watching Sunday’s game together, play-by-play, cheer-by-cheer thanks to the wonders of 21st-century technology.
“Growing up, one of our family’s big things every Sunday was we’d go to church and then we’d come home, my mom would make snacks and we’d watch the Bears game,” Franzen said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to watch Sunday’s game with everyone even though we’re all over the place. It’s really cool.”
And a really far cry from the manner in which Franzen watched the biggest game in Bears history 25 long years ago.
“I was only six years old back when the Bears played in Super Bowl XX,” Franzen recalled. “But I remember it being so cold that the power went out at our house. We had about 15 people over watching the game on, like, a five-inch screen and my dad broke the couch when he jumped up.
“We sang ‘Bear Down, Chicago Bears’ every time they scored. I mean, how can you not be a Bears fan after something like that?”
And how can you not love it that Bears fans today can a football game together even when they’re far, far apart?
Which begs the question, who will you be watching Sunday’s NFC Championship Game with – and, also, exactly how will you be watching it?
Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.