CHICAGO – If you are a Windy City football fan and root for the home team, you can never really feel terrible on January 26th when reflecting on their history.
It’s easy to argue that the greatest moment in the franchise occurred on that date.
It was on that day in 1986 that the Bears defeated the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX at the Superdome in New Orleans that was the perfect ending to a near-perfect season. The dominating performance cemented the team not only as one of the best in the history of the franchise but also in the conversation for the greatest in the National Football League.
It’s a day that’s celebrated by fans, just as that team is now, but at the same time, there is a reflection that occurs on January 26th. Well, it could be more of a realization that comes every year about this time, which is unfortunate for the franchise.
Tuesday marked the team’s 35 year without a championship, having been shut out since that victory over the Patriots in 1986. The team has only been back to the Super Bowl once, but they couldn’t get a win in a soggy Super Bowl XLI in Miami Gardens against the Colts in February of 2007.
They’ve appeared in two other NFC Championship games – 1988 (49ers) and 2010 (Packers) – but each time watched the eventual Super Bowl champions walk out of Soldier Field with a win. They’ve won just six total playoff games since then, with none coming since January of 2011, with 12 other losses in that span.
The last of those came this January in a season where Bears’ fans discontent may very well have reached a zenith. The inconsistent team that couldn’t get their offense right outside of a few weeks and switched quarterbacks twice. They started 5-1, lost six-straight, then went 3-1 to sneak into the playoffs.
A painful Wild Card round loss to the Saints mirrored that frustration, as the team held onto hope just long enough before the bottom dropped out at the end of the third quarter in a 21-9 loss. After that, much to the fanbase’s chagrin, general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy were retained.
Now you could say the team is the “Monsters in the Middle,” where they’re not quite bad enough for a total rebuild but lacking the punch of a potential Super Bowl contender which the looked like just two years ago.
Perhaps that’s the reason why there is some pause to celebrate the franchise’s great achievement 35 years ago Tuesday. As the years go bye without another championship to accompany it, the wait only grows heavier.