January 7, 1995 in Sports

If Bears Win, Let Cappuccino Flow Freely

Bernie Lincicome Chicago Tribune

Curiosity seems more a chore than a preoccupation concerning the Bears, the playoff appetizer assigned by lot to annoy the world-famous 49ers football team. It is a waste of time to learn about these Bears since they are, like teamsters and cold fronts, only passing through. Somebody has to play all those Most Valuable Pro Bowl Players of the Year today.

Nevertheless, I tried a bit of word association on a pony-tailed counter swab at the Fog City Diner just to get an idea how seriously anyone is taking Team Dave.

“Chicago Bears,” I said.

“Refrigerator Perry,” he said.

This is the place where I was given a sympathy cappuccino for being from Chicago after the Cubs lost to the Giants in the ‘89 playoffs. This time the bill came with the coffee.

“The Bears’ coach,” I said.

“Paul Wandstant,” he said.

While I am assured the 49ers are taking the Bears more seriously, the Bears could change places with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and no one would know.

In fact, the Blue Bombers might not be 17-point underdogs, the largest playoff spread since the Jets played the Colts in Super Bowl III. There is researchable information on how that turned out.

“Point spreads are some guy having a couple scotch and waters in Las Vegas,” said 49ers coach George Seifert.

Shows what he knows. The point-spread drink of choice is the martini.

The Vikings, beaten by the Bears last week, wouldn’t be 17-point dogs, not only because they beat a disinterested 49ers team in the last game of the season, but also because in 1987, a seven-loss, underdog Vikings team upset a two-loss 49ers team here.

“The ‘surprise’ or ‘overconfidence’ angle does not exist,” said 49ers tight end Brent Jones.

Of course it does.

Any discussion of the Bears is not who they are but who they are not. Steve Walsh is not Jim McMahon, a fact for which Walsh’s parents must be eternally grateful. And whoever is running the ball is not Walter Payton and whoever is tackling is not Mike Singletary and whoever is sacking is not Richard Dent.

I might point out that Richard Dent isn’t even Richard Dent. He is a 49ers convalescent hoping to get in a last lick.

The Bears’ obscurity is taken as some unforgivable felony. How dare the Bears have a coach who does not throw gum at local housewives or a quarterback who does not moon helicopters and not one fat tackle with endorsements and no rap record of their own, like Deion Sanders.

As one local typist put it, these are not Da Bears, but Da Bores.

It is hard to disagree with this. In fact, it is like hearing my own echo, but it is also like someone else scolding your dog. Lay off, I’ll do the tormenting around here.

So, I find myself rooting for the Bears to win, to puncture all this smug contempt. I am rooting for the Bears to win so I can drop back in for my victory cappuccino, pay in advance and drop a hint. The name is Wannstedt. The city is Chicago.

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