Updated: January 28, 2013 3:58PM
Sometimes the sports world throws you a curve ball, and I don’t mean the kind from the arm of a Major League baseball pitcher.
Sometimes you just have to laugh at how karma works in life and sports.
Take the National Football League as a prime example.
What does NFL jokingly stand for? — Not For Long, or how about No Freakin’ Logic.
The way this NFL season has gone, who knows what’s going to happen from week to week, hour to hour, minute to minute. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you really have nothing figured out.
So the Chicago Bears — you know, the “Terror of the Midway,” as Ralphie’s dad called them in “A Christmas Story,” which I watched at least four times this week — start the season by winning seven of their first eight and it looks like the Super Bowl is just a shuffle away. You heard super fans saying, “Super Bears, Super Bowl” in that really bad, over-accentuated Chicago dialect.
That one loss was to the rival from the north, the Green Bay Packers.
On the other end of the spectrum, those Cheeseheads started off slow, going 2-3 with the second of those three losses coming in the infamous “Fail Mary” game when Seattle was given the game-winning touchdown on a Hail Mary pass that was clearly intercepted by the Packers, but the replacement officials screwed up. The controversy resulted in the regular officials returning, but many Packer backers thought that could be the loss that costs their team a trip to the playoffs for a fourth straight year.
Instead, it’s so ironic that Seattle’s victory that was the butt of jokes from Bears fans tossed Green Bay’s way actually hurts the Bears since the Seahawks are one game ahead of Chicago in the wildcard standings.
Instead, those left-for-dead Packers have won nine of 10 to clinch the division and move a half-game ahead of San Francisco for the No. 2 seed.
And in the best twist of irony that could only happen in the NFL, the Bears and their fans have to cheer for Green Bay on Sunday. Assuming Chicago does what it should do — beat another tomato-can team with a losing record in the Lions — the Packers would need to beat the Minnesota Vikings for the Bears to salvage a playoff spot after losing five of six.
Now I know I’m supposed to be an impartial sportswriter, but as I’ve told some of my colleagues several times, you’ll never be able to take the fan out of me. Never, ever, not even close. So I can’t help but relish when a Bears fan in the office puts his arm around me and says, “Go Pack go” because he wants the Bears to make the playoffs. Or when I have Christmas dinner with my wife’s relatives and her aunt bows to me semi-sarcastically because she wants the Packers to help the Bears.
I can just imagine how some other Northwest Indiana Packer backers are enjoying this twist of fate, such as Ed Sperka and his green-and-gold-clad Merrillville home, or fairly new Green Bay Packers shareholder Jack Elia of Valparaiso, or John Zuklin of Highland, or Tim McCoy of Griffith, or Pat Tuleja and his garage-turned-Packers-shrine in Schererville.
And then there are Bears fans that prefer to cut off their nose to spite their face.
In all my life as a sports fan, I have never wanted my team in any sport to miss the playoffs on purpose. But that’s the way many Chicago fans are talking this week.
Do you really think White Sox fans were hoping the team would falter at the end of last season?
How about Cubs fans back in 1998 when the Lovable Losers tied for the wildcard and then won a one-game playoff to earn a futile trip to the playoffs to get swept by the eventual National League champion Atlanta Braves? Of course not. They wanted to see their team win as much as possible.
But one of my colleagues spoke for so many illogical fans when he tweeted, “I’m a true Bears fan. There is no way in hell I’m rooting for the Packers. Rule #1: Never root for the Packers. Ever.”
When I called him an idiot since Rule No. 1 is to always root for your own team through thick and thin, and who cares about any other rules, he responded with, “This idiot doesn’t want to see Lovie Smith coaching the Bears for another eight seasons.”
That’s the theme recently — those so-called fans don’t want Lovie to be their coach anymore after nine years (not eight as the self-proclaimed idiot said), even though he has a .559 career winning percentage, just .001 below the beloved Mike Ditka’s .560 percentage as a coach.
It’s one thing for media members — Bears beat writers or columnists who are supposed to have objectivity — to call for Lovie to be fired after the season, no matter what happens on Sunday. But as true fans, aren’t you obligated in some way to want your team to make the playoffs?
It would be another twist of fate if the Packers did beat the Vikings after the Bears beat the Lions, and the coach who has lost six straight to the Cheeseheads can keep following his own advice stated this week at a press conference: “I’ve always been a big Packers fan.”
Want one more bit of irony only the NFL can produce? If the Bears do win Sunday at noon, it would eliminate the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who have been responsible for preventing the Packers from reaching a pair of Super Bowls in the last five years. That would make many Green Bay fans happy, and then about three hours later, Bears fans could return the happiness if the Packers win.
It’s a wacky NFL world with rivals helping rivals and fans cheering for teams they usually wouldn’t be caught dead cheering for.
Unless you really aren’t rooting for your team because you don’t like your coach.
That makes you a bad fan.