Chicago Bums: A Requiem for the NFL’s Original Franchise

Chicago Bums: A Requiem for the NFLs Original Franchise

Jack Berens, Co-editor

Author’s Note: I’m a life-long, diehard Chicago Bears fan, and since I’m prepared to be objective about the Monsters of the Midway, I’ll give you some proof.  Here’s my collection of Bears jerseys:

Let’s get going.  

The 1920 American Professional Football Association (in 1922 the league became the NFL) included fourteen teams: the Akron Pros, Buffalo All-Americans, Canton Bulldogs, Chicago Cardinals, Chicago Tigers, Cleveland Tigers, Columbus Panhandles, Dayton Triangles, Decatur Staleys, Detroit Heralds, Hammond Pros, Muncie Flyers, Rochester Jeffersons, and the Rock Island Independents.  Of the original teams, only two continue to the present day: the Chicago Cardinals (Arizona Cardinals) and the Decatur Staleys (Chicago Bears).

Why must I mention this?  To understand the Bears’ abominable play, it’s necessary to acknowledge that the organization has fielded a professional football team for 99 years (the Bears began as an independent pro team in 1919).   The present-day Bears are atrocious, and if you don’t want to take my word for it, chew on this.  Consider that of the five worst seasons in terms of points allowed by the defense, four have been in the past four years.  This stat suggests (and may even highlight) that four of the five worst Chicago defenses ever had have come in the past four consecutive seasons.  Once, the Bears were revered for defensive prowess, but now they’re one of football’s biggest jokes.

What about their offense?  The six worst seasons that the Bears have had in terms of yards gained compared to the rest of the league have all come in the past fifteen years.  Basically, in the near century that the Bears have played football, the six worst offensive units that have taken the field have all come in the past decade and a half.

Sure, there are exceptions.  The Bears’ 2013 season featured a relentless offense (they had no choice but to score points), and if it wasn’t for the explosive, record-breaking Denver Broncos’ stats that same season, the Bears would have had the highest scoring offense in the NFL.  Too bad they gave up the most points ever in franchise history that very same year; they were negative thirty-three in point differential.  What about the 2006 Bears?  They were the second highest scoring NFL team that year.  Plus they had the best defense in the NFL that season!  You have me there: for that one season, they ran the table and contended into the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl against a legendary quarterback’s best team in Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts.  And while they did play in the 2011 NFC Championship, this was the last time they played a playoff game.

Here’s some more perspective: the last time the Bears played in the playoffs, I was in the fifth grade.  This year I will be graduating from high school.  Before I continue, I know that the Bears and Cardinals have been around for essentially the same time period, and while the Bears hold nine NFL Championships, the Cardinals have only claimed two (last in 1947).  In that same breath, the Bears have won the most games in NFL history while the Cardinals have only won the ninth most despite coming into the NFL the same season.  Clearly, the Bears are not quite a tortured franchise like the Cardinals (or even Lions or Browns).  Recently, however, the Bears have been as pathetic as any other team in the NFL.

One last perspective: after the Bears fired Head Coach Lovie Smith due to an unsatisfactory 10 win season, the Bears won 22 of their next 66 games.  In essence, Bears management wasn’t content with winning 63% of their games in 2012, so they opted to go in another direction.  Undeniably, they’ve gone in another direction – down – with a dismal clip of winning 34% of their games since Smith’s firing.

There’s a lot of blame to go around, and I won’t point fingers… Of course, the Bears would’ve clinched a playoff berth at the expense of their arch-rivals in 2013’s final regular-season meeting.  They would have had Chris Conte not decided to stop playing defense on the final play of the Packers’ game-winning, playoff-clinching, Bears-eliminating drive with 46 seconds left to play.

On a less specific note, the Bears have only played in one Super Bowl in the last 31 years.  For the NFL’s winningest franchise, this is just plain embarrassing.

Honestly, the last time the Bears were even approaching relevancy was the year they had a franchise-worst defense and didn’t even have a winning record.  Here’s to another 31 years.

White Sox and Bulls fans, get ready to wait.  So pop a squat, we’ve kept your seats warm.