Constable: Why a Bears loss tonight might be a good thing
This could be the night that decides whether some people's Christmases are merry, their Hanukkahs are happy, their wedding receptions don't compete with barroom televisions, and their families get their full attention through the holidays.
The Chicago Bears are playing the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football. To keep playoff dreams alive, the Bears must eke out a victory. Then all the Bears have to do is beat the first-place Packers in Green Bay, defeat first-place Kansas City and their MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes (who fell to the Chiefs after the Bears drafted Mitchell Trubisky), and vanquish the wild card-hopeful Vikings in Minnesota.
Just as a shadow on Feb. 2 means the groundhog predicts six more weeks of winter, a Bears' victory tonight means sports talk radio will have six more days of promoting dreams of a Super Bowl, which also is on Feb. 2.
I realize this is loser talk, but a lost season has a silver lining.
As a Chicago Cubs fan longing for a World Series since the 1969 Cubs broke my heart, I learned something in 2016, when that dream finally came true. Fans of winning teams can't make plans. I missed the last varsity soccer game of our son Will's career (and the only one I ever missed) because I was at Wrigley Field preparing to see the Cubs win the pennant for the first time since 1945. I'm glad I got to cover that game, and also write about the Cubs' playoff runs in 2017 and 2018. But 2019's Cubs season, which ended Sept. 29 before the playoffs begin, was liberating.
"Can we do book club on Saturday, Oct. 12?" my wife could ask. I could answer, "Sure," without having to see if the Cubs might have a game that day. Dinner with the neighbors on a Thursday? Why not? Spend the last weekend in October in Indiana? Can't see a reason that can't happen.
Losing, while it creates stress at the time, serves as a pressure-release valve at the end of a season. If the Bears lose to the Cowboys, fans won't have to agonize about whether star defensive end Akiem Hicks can recover from his gruesome elbow injury to save the season. Another Bears' loss means some fans can jump off the bandwagon before the Chiefs game and tune out more anguished regret that the Bears drafted Trubisky instead of Mahomes. A Bears' loss means fans who planned to fly to Miami and buy Super Bowl tickets now have thousands to spend on other things.
A Bears' loss means families can start Hanukkah on Dec. 22 without checking their phones to see if the Bears are beating the Chiefs in Sunday Night Football. Couples getting married on Jan. 4 can slice their wedding cake without worrying that the groom's father and half the bridal party meandered into the bar to watch the Bears in a wild-card game.
On Sunday, Jan. 19, fans can watch the Chicago Wolves take on the Rockford IceHogs at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, groove to a performance of "Grease" at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, or check out the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, without having to wonder if Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro cost the Bears a Super Bowl appearance with an errant field goal attempt that hits both uprights and the crossbar to replace last year's double doink with a triple doink.
If the Bears lose, fans suddenly will have time to catch up on "Breaking Bad," "The Wire," "The Good Place" or some other great TV series they never could find time for. They could read that book they bought but never opened.
Or they could pop in their DVD copy of the 1985 Bears' "Super Bowl Shuffle" and relive the glorious 15-1 season that ended with a 46-10 Super Bowl thumping of the New England Patriots, who have rebounded in Super Bowls since then. But even the "Super Bowl Shuffle" shows a loser benefit. At the 1986 Grammy Awards, the Bears' gold-record effort lost out in a Best R&B Performance category to Prince and the Revolution's "Kiss," saving the Bears from the pressure to release a second song.