Reporting Dan Bernstein
By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) The players think they have it rough, what with all the bone-rattling decelerations, spectacular, airborne ligament-destructions, and brutally concussive forces that leave them dazed and bloody each week.
They liken it to being in a regular, Sunday car crash, and maybe they’re right.
But their lives are easy compared to those of us who must stare at a Monday phone bank filled with eight pale-green lights, blinking in unison – one for each phone line that holds its own special brand of postgame reaction. By the time we emerge from the studio on most Mondays we too are broken men, leveled by crashing waves of Bears Stupid. Often, we are taken directly to area hospitals.
DOCTOR: “What happened?”
PRODUCER: “Bears Monday. Five hours. 32 calls. Seven guys named ‘Bob.’ Five Ditka references.”
DOCTOR: (stares grimly into the distance, sighs) “It’s gonna be a long night.” (calls in Code Blue & Orange)
People think the reason that Doug Buffone and Ed Obradovich host immediately after Bears games is that they are entertaining, honest, knowledgeable and trustworthy. While all that is true, certainly, the reality is that they have each built up a rare immunity that allows them to withstand nonsense. They are made of sturdier stuff than mere mortals, and perform a great public service on the front lines of radio.
The rest of us must put our trust in emerging technology that hopeful experts feel may lessen the dangerous impacts of Bears callers, now that we’re more aware of the invisible damage they actually inflict: new headphones with special filters that alert to an approaching expression of desire to see the third-string quarterback, sensors that detect and delete the words “Bear Weather,” and phone systems that block anything coming from Rockford.
While we have already pledged our brains for posthumous study by the new University of Chicago Center for Chronic Traumatic Bears-Opinion Exposure, the 2012 season is now upon us, and our work begins.
For our sake, and more for that of the innocent listener, please adhere to the following guidelines. With your help, future caller, we can all work together to make talking about the Bears a safer experience for everyone:
- It’s Ur-LACK-er, not Ur-LOCK-er. Just remember that he plays line-BACK-er, not line-BOCK-er. It’s not as grating as hearing “Greg Maddox” or “Kerry Woods,” but it’s getting close.
- Never preface your comments by telling us how old you are, or for how many years you have been attending games. Old people are not necessarily wise, and many are daft. Some families are blessed with generational stupidity that is inherited with season tickets.
- Saying “I was at the game” does not add any gravity or validity to anything you may say, unless it’s something about what happened in the parking lot. Those watching at home now have a better view of everything, and NFL.com provides the critical “all 22” views. You were in line for the bathroom for a total of 40 minutes, too, remember. And drunk.
- Pledge that this will be the year you finally try to watch the line of scrimmage. Outcomes of plays are often determined by what the fat guys do – or don’t do – on both sides of the ball. Remember to start with your eyes on the line each snap, and watch outward. The camera will take you to the ball. You’ll be smarter, and we’ll all be happier for it.
- Don’t ask that players behave like fans. Screaming and fist-pumping is for you to do, not for them, and you mustn’t need to see your feelings reflected back at you by professionals busy trying to do their respective jobs. Many of them aren’t really football fans at all, played for a different team last year, and will play elsewhere next year. They can “look like they care” by being successful at what they do, and they will help opponents up off the ground and exchange friendly words with them before and after games.
- While we’re on it, Lovie Smith is a stoic. If you have a problem with that, root for the 49ers. Believe it or not, Smith actually feels the pain of Bears losses and the joy of Bears victories more than you do in your childish, ironically-termed “man cave.”
- It’s not the scheme. Teams have won titles with 40-fronts and 30-fronts, one-gaps and two-gaps, zone-blocking and man-blocking. Champions have pressed the corners up and played man-off, brought the house and dropped into deep umbrella coverage. The truth is that all NFL teams find a way to do a little bit of everything these days, as necessary week-to-week, no matter what the base design on either side of the ball.
- The broadcasters do not hate the Bears. They have no reason to be out to get you, so keep your hypersensitivity to yourself. They are often guilty of cliché, vapidity and overreliance on simple storylines, but it cuts both ways. The people in whatever other city feel just as slighted.
- If you are about to say “Nobody’s talked about this yet,” stop immediately, because you are almost certainly wrong. The idea that the GM bears some responsibility is not exactly a novel concept, nor is the use of play-action on third and four.
- Nothing ever needs to be related somehow to Tim Tebow. The fewer mentions of him the better for all involved, unless he’s enjoyably bad, being deported to the Phillipines, or surreptitiously photographed in a naked Chelsea conga-line with David Hyde Pierce and Ian McKellen.
- It’s Alshon Jeffery, not “Jeffries.” (Just working ahead on this one.)
- Nothing bad is happening to the Bears because the McCaskey family is cheap. Not only has the league standardized spending, but the Bears themselves have put obvious, well-publicized gobs of money into this roster. If you even think about starting to drag out something about an old man, nickels and manhole-covers, hang up. Then break your phone.
- 1985 was forever ago. The highlights look like vintage newsreels, already. Some of those players are dead, and others are in various stages of dementia. Let it go. We get it, and we agree with you that those were fun times. So was the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Keep that team out of current conversation.
- Your gambling losses do not matter. Your gambling wins do not matter. Your fantasy team does not matter. The officials are not in cahoots with the commissioner, the Jamaican mob, the Freemasons, the Pope, the Elders of Zion, PETA, the Hollywood liberal elite, Big Pharma, the military/industrial complex, and/or the Koch bothers to screw you out of the fifty bucks you put on Jacksonville.
On behalf of all of us, and all who listen, I thank you in advance for your cooperation.