By Tim Baff0e–
(CBS) Nothing is as American as football. From gathering as a community to get drunk and yell at Pop Warner refs to gathering together to get drunk and yell at millionaires, the gridiron outlines the apple pie of our souls.
As football is practically coached by Uncle Sam, it and all the symbols of our country command the utmost respect. Sadly, a virus has entered the red, white and blue bloodstream of late, and it manifested in another blotchy rash Thursday.
The way the Chicago Bears spent four hours on national television in a 35-14 loss to the Packers disrespected the American flag. Bad football, a plague in the NFL of late, is shameful and goes against every bit of bravery and heart this country was founded on.
Thursday’s display started off innocuous enough. Players on the Bears and Packers were all linked arm-in-arm amid crowd chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” This was a continuation of the NFL’s successful diffusion of player protests against social inequality and police violence, instead turned into a soda commercial blurring the issues and benefiting the league.
“More attention has been on what the guys are doing, what we’re doing, rather than why we’re doing it,” Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think with what Trump did, I think he tried to make it about him, and really it’s not. It’s just about social injustice and inequality. And I think we’re all just hoping that message still stays pure.”
Ha, too late, pal. The message is football and being united in respect for America in the form of human collisions. So it was good to see a movement co-opted and morphed into an opportunity for mass fan nationalism. Then the game started.
Bears quarterback and Dr. Seuss character Mike Glennon lost a fumble on his first play after Packers had already gone through the Bears defense like Vaseline into the end zone. It was quickly a 14-0 lead for Green Bay, and then a bad snap went off of Glennon’s knee and into the second level of the Packers defense. Compounding the mess, a candy bar entered in an attempt to get us to laugh over the further desiccation of our country.
The Bears also almost lost a punt that appeared to graze Deon Bush’s cleat, but the officials — clearly in conspiracy to keep as many red-blooded Americans watching as possible — decided otherwise. Is this what the characters in Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War documentary fought for?
That was just the first quarter. And Glennon somehow finished it with a 103.1 passer rating, despite what our eyes communicated to our brains. Once again, science proved to be contradictory to the values of our country. Just like climate change or teaching evolution.
Then came a sudden weather delay because God was clearly displeased with the gall of the Bears to put out that performance. Still, I remember a time in the NFL when you could get struck by lightning, doc would shoot you up with some Toradol and you went back out there because you loved the game. To quote Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, “It shows you where our society’s at right now with all that stuff.”
Tracy Wolfson of CBS reported during the delay that the Bears were “just trying to stay loose, talking about the game.” Like a “Remaining Men Together” support group in Fight Club reminding one another that they’d been castrated. Eventually they players were able to stop hugging and were allowed back on a field soaked with Lady Liberty’s tears.
Apparently the NFL’s idea of unity doesn’t include the bones and tendons of approximately 27 Packers who exited the game with injuries. Perhaps the Bears’ plan all along was to get pantsed on national TV while systematically injuring their rival’s entire roster. Still not worth the affront to the Stars and Stripes, though.
Glennon, by the way, was intercepted with 5:28 left in the first half. His passer rating was then 27.6. Where were your nerd stats now?
Meanwhile, Butterfinger was still dominating the Bears Twitter account.
Butterfinger itself is incredibly American, and to be an enemy to its peanut butteriness is treason. This is what the Bears had become –enemies of the State.
Glennon threw a touchdown with seconds remaining in the half, his rating re-erecting up to 86.7. At halftime, the TV analysts/terrorists talked about the Bears’ quarterbacks.
If these people aren’t on some government watch list, they damn well should be.
In the second half, kicker Connor Barth missed from 47 yards out, and the guy the Bears cut in favor of him had thoughts.
With our country deep in the toilet, the flag wiped and wadded within, Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan went helmet-to-helmet on Packers receiver Davante Adams as Adams was wrapped up and going to the ground. It was the kind of hit that men in their 40s who still talk about their high school playing days really get moist over.
It was what football really should be about — and was before the social justice warriors got a hold of it and had to give everyone a participation trophy. Trevathan can take solace in knowing he did whatever it took to let the opposition know you’re there and then make it impossible for your own defense to stop the opposition from scoring after the ensuing penalty and then getting fined and probably suspended per a new NFL rule, further handicapping your teammates next week.
To see that your team is getting embarrassed on national TV and decide to become the story, absorbing most of the negative juice coming in the postgame and on the pundit shows? That’s a noble soul jumping on a grenade for his brothers. Not sure if it could stir enough pride, though.
“You never wish that on nobody,” Trevathan said afterward. “You never want to see that. But this game is physical and it happens. Hopefully (the NFL) can see my half of it.”
Gotta hear both sides. Too bad in this day and age, the American side is vilified.
Glennon picked off again with 2:45 left in the third. As the fourth quarter began, it was Packers 35, Bears 7, Land of the Free 0.
With more than 10 minutes left in the game, the Bears essentially quit by running the ball constantly while down four touchdowns. And yet the running worked and got them an important touchdown from Jordan (Juwan) Howard, who was already playing hurt.
At least someone was out there caring enough about spending American fans’ time well. The Bears then followed with not attempting an onside kick with six minutes left. Why unquit a game even though you’re using your starting starting, right?
Thankfully, this Taliban torture experiment ended in the 11 o’clock hour in the Central time zone. But it was midnight in the destruction of this country.
Never have I seen such a slap in the face to the American flag. Until next Thursday.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.