If you haven’t already, get ready to swallow your pride

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It’s one thing to wake up Monday mornings and feel as though you wasted three hours of your life the previous day watching a Bears team that sometimes looks inept. For the most part, the Bears have been in contention of winning most games this year. There were only two games in which I was confident saying, “The Bears have no chance to come back and win this,” and that was in the blowout losses to the Bengals and Cardinals when the Bears couldn’t stop the opponents’ offenses in the first half.

It’s another thing entirely to hear opponents and fans of other teams around the league laughing at and dissing the Bears’ franchise and the city of Chicago.

I can deal with the failures of the Bears this year because it is ultimately just a game and I, like every other Bears fan, have no direct involvement with the team. It’s not our team, we don’t own it or its players like a fantasy football team. Sure, ticket and merchandise sales help pay salaries, but I frequently roll my eyes when I hear fans use the word “we” instead of “they” when talking about the team.

The one thing that does bother me while watching loss after loss is the effect it has on my ego — not that I have a big one to begin with. But I’m a proud man, sometimes to a fault, and it gets to me seeing the schadenfreude that fans of other NFL teams get when seeing the results of Bears games.

It bothers me to watch Vikings fans — and I’ve gotten plenty of chances because the Bears haven’t played too many noon games this year — celebrating in the stands with homemade signs referencing their run to Miami for the Super Bowl in February while they watch their team currently sit at 9-1 on top of the NFC North. This was, afterall, the year that the Bears were supposed to return to South Beach to “finish the business” they started three years ago.

It bothers me to watch Packers fans — I could stop there, their appearance is disturbing enough — celebrating their 7-4 team, which currently sits second in the division and is the No. 1 wild card team.

It bothers me that the Bears’ point differential is minus-19 whereas the Vikings are at plus-113 and the Packers are at plus-81. What happened to the staple of Chicago? No matter how poorly a Bears offense has played, fans could always count on its defense to show up. No longer.

It bothers me to watch videos like the following — for more reasons than the number of dancing, fat, unattractive girls wearing ugly colors.

And one of the things that bothers me more than players following the money out of town is when those players find success with other teams.

Sure, Bernard Berrian isn’t living up to the six-year, $42 million deal he signed after the 2007 season, but while the former Bear and current Vikings wide receiver is enjoying a modicum of personal success, he’s surely having a fantastic time partaking in his team’s historic run.

That’s why it also bothers me to read quotes from him denigrating his former team.

“I think it is gone,” Berrian said, when asked about the intimidating reputation of the Bears’ defense. “People being intimidated about who they have around there, that isn’t working for them anymore.”

What he said is true and it doesn’t sound like trash talk. It sounds like an honest answer to a question that somebody had asked him. But because it came from Berrian, it hurts the pride more.

I’ve already swallowed my pride this year. And even though certain things that are said by opponents or fans of other teams still get to me sometimes, I’ve accepted that I’m going to have to live with them and continue hearing them until this Bears team gets better.

Nothing figures to feel as bad as when the Bears were nearly shut out, 37-3, last year at Lambeau Field and hearing the chants of “Bears still suck” from the crowd of drunken, toothless, obese, unattractive, orange-jumpsuit-wearing, foam-cheesehead-donning Packers fans. The Packers are still the Bears’ chief rival, after all.

But if anything could surpass it, it’ll be this week in Minnesota, where the Bears have struggled all decade. Minnesota is much better than that Packers team of a year ago, and the Bears are definitely worse than the one that got spanked by the Packers at Lambeau. If the Bengals and Cardinals can each put up 31 points in the first half against the Bears, I shudder to think about what the Brett Favre- and Adrian Peterson-led Vikings can do.

If you’re a hardheaded Bears fan with a lot of pride, I recommend you not watch Sunday’s game, or listen to or read comments in the days immediately following it unless you’re able to swallow your pride and accept the verbal punches that will surely be thrown. This being Thanksgiving weekend, it’s a good time to reflect on the important things in your life for which you’re thankful.

It’s going to be ugly on Sunday. Much worse than fat or unattractive people dancing in a music video.

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