As we all know, it’s Bears week and, oh, what the heck, I can’t stop myself: The Bears still suck.
Still, those sentiments aside, I have to make an admission that I’m sure will shock some of you.
The rivalry with Chicago doesn’t hit home with me quite as hard as it does with a lot of other Green Bay Packers fans. A lot? Who am I kidding? Most Green Bay Packers fans.
I was reminded of that while reading an excellent post on the rivalry by Jayme Joers over at BrentFavre. But, see, there’s a reason why I feel the way I do (call it an excuse, if you’d like): I’ve never lived in Wisconsin.
If you’re a regular reader of this site – and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be – you already know I’m originally from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. That’s right – I’m a Yooper. The reason why I’m a Packers fan can be found here. Adam jokingly calls the U.P., “The land Wisconsin didn’t want” (or, at least I think he’s joking). I’m often asked how much Packers support exists there, what with Michigan already having an NFL team, albeit of a semi-pro variety. Honestly, I’d say it’s about 50-50, depending on where you reside in the Yoop. The eastern side tends to get Lions-heavy, while the Packers own the west. I’m from the town of Marquette, which is sort of in the middle.
Either way, Packers-Lions is the big rivalry there, obviously, especially while I was growing up. Detroit had some pretty good teams then, with Barry Sanders making fools out of defenders on a weekly basis (11 years later, I’m still in awe of that guy). Even post-Sanders – with Detroit often terrible and Green Bay often anything but - the matchup always has significance. Lions fans desperately want to embarrass Packers fans by having their team pull off the upset; Packers fans always dread that game, solely because we dread being embarassed. If you haven’t lived in Michigan, you likely don’t feel the same way. But to me, the Lions games always mean something more.
In 2005, at the ripe old age of 23, I finally left my home state, moving to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota. I knew the Packers-Vikings rivalry was a big one before I lived here, but until you live here, you really have no idea. That mainly stems from Vikings’ fans having what I heard someone recently refer to as a “Lil’ (another word for Richard)” complex. Really, that kind of says it all, but in case you need more, feel free to read what I wrote about the rivalry over the summer. Let’s just say Adam, Gene (a former Minnesotan) and I have really, really, really enjoyed the first couple of weeks of the 2010 season.
I understand those two rivalries very well because I’ve lived in the states where the Lions and Vikings play. But I’ve never lived in Illinois (and would never want to) or Wisconsin (kind of hope I get to live there at some point, to be honest). That’s not to say the rivalry with the Bears is foreign to me or that I don’t get it, because I do. Believe me, I know the history between these teams and the desire that exists to come out on the winning end. I was at last season’s opening night win at Lambeau and it was a great thing to see the many Bears fans in attendance slink off after losing at the end. It’s just that, well, I’m kind of an outsider to it all.
Honestly, I don’t even know that many Bears fans to talk crap with, while I can’t say the same about Detroit or Minnesota. That’s probably a factor in this, too. Plus, the Packers owned the Bears for so, so long, really until the arrival of Lovie Smith, that it was hard to get into the rivalry. Things have evened out considerably since, of course, which has helped me hate them more than I did. But, again, I’m sort of an outsider, so I don’t have the same amount of venom reserved for the Bears as many of you do.
Ultimately, the Bears are third on my list of teams I hate the most, behind both Minnesota and Dallas (I’ve got the Lions in a special category off to the side).
Before you ask, no, I haven’t lived in Texas. But I don’t think you really need to to hate those guys from the bottom of your soul.