Bears fans disappointed by Sunday's outcome yet hopeful for future
Boisterous Chicago Bears fans watching Sunday's wild-card game in Elk Grove Village didn't mask their disappointment when kicker Cody Parkey missed a go-ahead field goal attempt with 10 seconds left.
Frustrated groans and expressions of disbelief filled Real Time Sports Bar, where the crowd intently followed each play of the Bears' first playoff game since 2010. But despite the 16-15 season-ending loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, several fans said they remain optimistic that the team will have long-term success.
"This was great to watch. It can't get any more exciting. Not the way we wanted it to end, but it was fabulous," said Elk Grove Village resident Jim Hamill, who grew up in Chicago. "Next year, we're going to be even better."
Lifelong fan Paul Szwed of Elk Grove Village said his family had season tickets from 1977 until just last year. He has followed the team during some of its best and worst seasons, he said, and this one turned out to be better than expected.
"It was a pleasant surprise," he said. "I think there are some growing pains still going on for the offense. The defense looks fantastic. ... I think (a playoff run) is something we're going to get used to over the next couple years."
The Bears' playoff appearance was especially fun for the management team at Real Time Sports, which was packed with customers from start to finish, owner Ben Cirrincione said.
"We look forward to it," he said. "It's not just good for business, it's great for Chicago."
The camaraderie among fans is what draws Patty Bialek of Elk Grove Village and Laurie Garofalo of Elmwood Park to Real Time for big sporting events, they said. Both thought they'd be seeing the Bears in the Super Bowl this year.
Howard Grosse, who grew up in the suburbs and has since moved to Dallas, also was hopeful that he'd be able to continue rooting for the Bears throughout the playoffs. He returned to his hometown to watch Sunday's playoff game with his friends and family.
Leading up to the game, Pat and Holly Murtaugh of Elk Grove Village were quick to dismiss any assumption that the Bears would easily beat the Eagles. Anything is possible at this stage in the playoffs, they said.
Though the loss made him feel "a little sick," Pat Murtaugh said he likes the direction the Bears are headed under coach Matt Nagy, especially with it being only his first season with the team.
"Every game they play, they look a little better," he said. "Chicago deserves to have a winning team. It's long overdue."