By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Have you looked at your garbage cans today? They’re probably jammed with crushed empty cardboard boxes, ribbon and string strewn about, tissue paper smashed in between, and enough wrapping paper to kill a forest of multicolored trees.
In this time when we are supposed to be thankful for the true spirit of the season—which contrary to popular belief is not that stupid Elf on the Shelf creepy crap—it’s such a waste when you really step back and think about it.
Not the gifts themselves, but the value we put into packaging and presentation. We spend billions of dollars annually on stuff that gets immediately tossed to the side, tripped over and slipped on, and only beloved by infants that can’t comprehend a holiday in the first place. While it’s usually a convenient excuse to condone my own laziness, I usually don’t wrap gifts because it’s such squander.
As I topped the sundae of scraps of another Christmas passed with the last non-winning lotto ticket stocking stuffer, I couldn’t help but think of a gift I once again didn’t get. Not the guitar I asked for year in and year out and never received while I watched my little brother get three of them, and, no, I’m not bitter. I lacked the gift of Chicago Bears hope and excitement.
Are the Bears the Tennessee Titans or Arizona Cardinals? No, but being not-awful is no prize in the NFL. Hell, it can sometimes be worse than awful, especially if a team is only just not-awful and also happens to be in the playoffs.
On Sunday, the Bears can clinch a playoff spot by beating the Detroit Lions and having the Green Bay Packers knock off the Minnesota Vikings. Odds say that both happen since the Lions are hovering around that awful area, have a bad head coach, and have nothing to play for, and the Packers are much better than something Christian Ponder is quarterbacking—even with Adrian Peterson defying theories of modern medicine—and have playoff seeding ramifications to play for. Asking for two road wins to occur to advance a team’s season is no small favor, though.
But if it happens, what does making the playoffs do for the Bears? Seriously, ask yourself that. It adds one more game to a season that will ultimately prove futile. They cannot win a road playoff game. Dallas is the only team with a winning record the Bears have beaten on the road this season, and that was because of five Tony Romo interceptions. And in losing a first-round playoff game, that puts them where for the future that not making the playoffs wouldn’t?
A better chance of another Lovie Smith contract extension, for one thing. The McCaskeys love him, probably for much the same reason so many Bear fans don’t—his professionalism, which is too often mislabeled as a lack of demonstrativeness on the sidelines or at a podium. For many fans, firing Smith seems to be a cure to the team’s better-than-mediocre affliction. But he doesn’t deserve to be fired after this season regardless of outcome because he’s managed to make chicken nuggets out of… what chicken nuggets are made out of, that being the remnants of Jerry Angelo’s reign of terror.
Now, nuggets aren’t the best form of chicken, but they get the job done. Lovie Smith has done the best that any coach can do with the roster he’s been given. At the same time, the Bears may make the playoffs in spite of themselves, getting there not so much on merit as the other hopefuls being a part of a big ball of suck. It’s not the mark of a great coach to walk a team backwards to the guillotine but just on a much bigger stage. Nor is it a feather in one’s cap to achieve a winning record built almost solely on beating bad teams—it’s what you’re supposed to do, but not what should define you. Phil Emery would do well to allow Smith to be a lame duck coach in 2013 and to work with what hopefully will be an improved roster of Emery’s doing. Then the future of the Lovie Smith Era can be decided.
And for completely selfish unrequited guitar love reasons, I don’t want to watch Bears playoff football that I know will not result in a Super Bowl victory. “But they could get hot.” And they won’t. “Any given Sunday…” Stop.
This is an old, wounded, undermanned team that is ready for football to be over for a few months, even if they don’t want to admit it. Inventory needs to be taken. Boxes and shiny paper need to be separated from what’s really important.
Playoffs? That would just be a waste.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.