By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) I couldn’t look at Robbie Gould or Anthony Adams without thinking about what occurred at their alma mater. Sorry.
I want to care only that the Bears dismantled and humiliated Detroit, ran their record to 6-3, and established themselves as something more than a fringe postseason contender.
I want to freely celebrate Devin Hester’s magic, the resurgent defensive backfield, the relentless Julius Peppers, and some old-fashioned bad blood.
But I have been seeing football more through a cloud of anger, revulsion and sadness.
It’s not that I’m choosing to be so mindful of the events of the past week – believe me, there’s something to be said for the real value of escapism. It’s that I simply cannot entirely escape, yet, as the game’s images keep morphing back into something sinister.
I can’t watch coaches coach without wondering what else they do. I can’t hear messages about charity efforts without thinking awful, truly unfair things. I see throngs of cheering fans and think more about the game’s vast power over simple minds, how it is used to build great myths and shroud terrible truths.
Even the usual, gung-ho military imagery reminds me that I’d prefer to see some ferocious-looking helicopters hovering over State College, disgorging black-clad rappellers to seize computers and drag conspirators away to places that don’t exist.
For More Bears Coverage:
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If you can shake the image of the tone-deaf cultists genuflecting at the Joe Paterno statue Saturday, I’m envious, as an icon that would be better defaced and toppled was instead worshipped. These were not drunken, leaderless student rioters, but grown adults who should know better.
If you could listen to those chilling, bizarre chants of “We are Penn State!” and not seethe as they sound to you more like “We support the decades-long conspiracy to aid, abet and conceal the rape and molestation of children!”, then you are stronger than I.
Saturday gave us uncomfortable mixed messages about the importance of football in our lives – “healing” through ignorance and distraction, praying en masse after the fact to some god who was apparently powerless for years in the face of evil, displays of support for bad people for bad reasons, and the apparent belief that redemption could come via scoreboard.
That was all still echoing during the Bears game. While I tried to keep my internal tuner from slipping, I guess my compartmentalization skills need work.
(It didn’t help my efforts that Deadspin broke a story during the game that the judge that set Jerry Sandusky’s $100,000 unsecured bail is a Second Mile volunteer. Prosecutors had asked for $500,000 and a required leg-monitor.)
We will do our thing and cover the Bears’ snap-back to quality, enjoying the season’s most satisfying win to date and ratcheting up expectations, while still dealing with the burgeoning hideousness in Happy Valley.
And there will be more news this week of civil suits in the works, more victims coming forward, and the possible involvement of the FBI and other agencies. All roads will lead back to a primitive town, in a state where the unfortunate influence of a game has made its citizens something less than human.
The lens through which I view football is glowing red hot right now.
It will stop, soon. As the regular routine returns, the wrath dissipates into something heavy and grim, but bearable.
At least I hope so.
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s columns here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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