Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Go Bears!

My introduction to American Football and the NFL was interestingly enough through the pages of Hugh Hefner’s Plaboy magazine. It was that (I think) cover featured Farrah Fawcett-Majors when she was still hot and appeared in the sizzling first generation of Charlie’s Angels. Inside the mag, they had a pictorial on the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders that left a lasting imprint on my mind. Inside the NFL indeed.

Years later, I purchased my first issue of Sports Illustrated (and I still have it and every issue I’ve bought since) at the Rastro magazine store in Shoppesville, Greenhills. The cover story was John Elway’s magnificent drive to win the AFC against the Cleveland Browns in 1986.

Years later, my first ever live NFL game was the Dallas Cowboys at the New York Giants at the Meadowlands. The Tuna was in his coaching debut and he beat his former team, the Big Blue from NYC.

The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders aside, the one team that I became a fan of was the Chicago Bears. I first became a fan not simply through their on-field success but their off field stories. When I first saw that true-to-life drama on television Brian’s Song about Bears’ running backs Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers (starring the ultra cool James Caan and Billy Dee Williams), I remember crying an ocean just like everybody else. Piccolo died of cancer at the young age of 26, but it was his friendship with Sayers that said something about the future of American sports – the integration and ascent of other ethnic groups in mainstream American. Culture and consciousness.

But it wasn’t solely because of a tearjerker that turned me intio a Bears fan. It was the 1984-85 team that nearly made it to Super Bowl XIX. They lost in the NFC championship to Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park where Bears QB Steve Fuller was intercepted several times. I do remember Bears safety Gary Fencik played the game of his life intercepting Montana twice although the Bears were eventually shut out 23-0 in an embarrassing loss.

The following year, the modern version of the Monsters of the Midway came into popular lore when they acquired loud-mouth quarterback Jim McMahon, an appliance in William “the Refrigerator” Perry, and kicker Kevin Butler out of Georgia State. They had Mike Ditka as coach and Buddy Ryan (later Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles) as Defensive Coordinator.

They went 15-1 that season; their only loss was to Dan Marino’s Miami Dolphins. But after that, they just steam rolled into the play-offs allowing only 10 points in three post-season matches.

Today’s Bears nearly had a chance to duplicate their predecessors’ feat last season – the 20th anniversary of their Super Bowl XX victory. But they fell short.

But largely behind an unheralded bunch of players such as Rex Grossman, Rashied Davis, Mushin Muhammad, and Desmond Clark (the names aren’t of the household variety that inspires fear in opponent’s eyes) and from their only name player in linebacker Brian Urlacher, they’re back in the Big Game 21 years after their last hurrah. They don’t have that fearsome linebacking corps led by the fearsome Dick Butkus and Bill George or the one captained by Mike Singletary to win the Super Bowl. They don’t have that name quarterback such as Sid Luckman, Jim McMahon, or even George Blanda. And their coach is someone named Lovie Smith for chrissake!

But that’s all right. Let the Indianapolis Colts have all the attention. They may have the better numbers owing to that laser canon for an arm that is Peyton Manning. They may have gotten those monkeys off their backs that are the collective New England Patriots. But now they’ve got Bears hot in pursuit.

It’s a toss-up as to who is going to win. But me? I’m saying that the Bears will wallop Manning and company in Super Bowl XLI to claim their second title in the modern era. Go Bears!

When I talk about the NFL nowadays, I ramble on about the Bears and the Broncos who also have a soft place in my heart. I talk of rebuilding the Patriots, of the rapid ascent of Eli Manning in New York, and the mystical pull of the Oakland Raiders in their silver and black.

I have forgotten those leggy and sexy Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders now. And haven’t looked at that Farrah Fawcett-Majors issue of Playboy (I got another copy at midtown Manhattan for $39 a couple of years ago) in quite awhile.

There’s more to discuss fan-wise, and but hey, there are those Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders now and all I can say is, “Woooooooo!”

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