Sunday, December 23, 2007

Returning the Favor

Winter storm warnings and travel advisories cover the upper Midwest as the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears prepare to play football, outside in the blustery gusts of late December. The GB Game 15 Stats lists the game time temp at 16 degrees. Nasty 22 mph winds in Soldier Field make both long snaps and short passes a game of whiffle ball. The Bears are poised to take advantage of every mistake by the Packers and they blow the Wisconsin boys away in a 35-7 victory.

Every business has the company line and the workforce reality. No player in the NFL is going on record as saying 'we went through the motions because that was all we needed to do today', but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Last year the Chicago Bears were headed for the Super Bowl and rolled over letting the Packers win the last game of the season. Today the Packers return the favor. All the high ideals of competition aside, the Bears need a win, the Packers don’t, and everyone on the field knows it. The message is sent when the Bears pound the football downfield on 18 plays over nearly eleven minutes on the first drive of the game.

Preparing for this match, Coach McCarthy holds the practices inside because he thinks it is more important to keep the precision in the reps, rather than experience the reps in the probable game conditions. In hindsight he is probably correct. The Green Bay players know they have the cherished first week bye in the playoffs, and truth be told, most of the team would rather deal with a second road game in Dallas than yet another bitter cold contest at Lambeau. Brett Favre will tell you, no one really enjoys playing when the wind chill is eighteen below.