Even if the Bears won’t bite, McCarthy’s speech adds to the opener hype
CHICAGO – Somewhere Papa Bear and Curly are awfully proud.
We’ll the latter might be happy. The former might be angry.
What these legends might share mutual respect for-if not admiration-is the candor to which Mike McCarthy spoke about his first opponent of the 2015 season who just happened to be their main rival.
Last Wednesday Mike McCarthy spoke at a luncheon at Lambeau Field for the local Chamber of Commerce’s Welcome Back Packers event. He finished up his speech by getting some of the people in the crowd fired up.
Oddly enough, he said it with a straight face.
“Our guys are working very hard to conclude this final lap of the preseason tomorrow night against the Saints,” said McCarthy before September 2nd. “And we will proudly stand as the 95th team in the history of the Green Bay Packers and when we kick Chicago’s (expletive).”
Call it a football “Shot Across the Bow” to their neighbors to the south a week-and-a-half before they open the 2015 season in Chicago against the Bears at Soldier Field. For a league that keeps tight lips it was a rare show of brash towards another NFL team-especially one in their own division.
It certainly got fans stirred up a bit as they took to Twitter and other social media forms to voice either approval or disapproval of the move. Once game week arrived, McCarthy wasn’t exactly backing down.
“To me it’s the reality of the rivalry,” said McCarthy when asked about the statement. “Let’s be real here-we’re not going down there to play Hopscotch.”
The Bears would agree. This game has a lot of meaning beyond the usual implications of the first of a 16-game NFL season. For one it’s the first of a new era for the franchise as they show off a team build by a new GM (Ryan Pace) and led by a new head coach (John Fox).
Perhaps they would respond in kind? We’ll, no.
When asked about the statement during his first news conference on Monday, Fox didn’t get caught much up in it.
“We’ll they should be confident,” said Fox when told what McCarthy said, following it up with a few chuckles with some of the nearby media.
Not exactly a rebuttal but it was apparent the team was about to take the bait either.
“A coach is supposed to instill confidence in a team-I get that,” said Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long. “Umm, yeah.”
Perhaps the team, correctly so, is more concerned about finding a way to stop a Packers team that appears on paper to be quite a bit ahead. Aaron Rodgers threw for ten touchdowns without an interception against the Bears in 2014 while also throwing for 617 yards in a pair of blowout losses.
While that is against a new regime than was in place a year ago the Bears are still in a rebuilding mode with a completely revamped offense and defense. On top of that the team has suffered a significant amount of injuries in camp that set them back even more than the Packers who lost receiver Jordy Nelson for the year in the preseason.
Maybe that’s why the Bears were mum on McCarthy’s comments. It wasn’t like the coach expected the Bears to be fuming anyway.
“It wouldn’t fire me up and I’m a coach,” said McCarthy when asked if he feared the comments might motivate his opponents. “These guys got to play.”
Certainly his words got some play before his teams hit the field on Sunday.