Chicago has a huge sports fan diaspora, as millions of people who have moved away from the Windy City still maintain their accents, love of pork products, and biological sports affiliations. Go to any Cubs, Bulls, and Bears away game, and you'll probably find a good number of Chicago fans in the stands. Looking around Qualcomm Stadium this past weekend as I attended the Bears-Chargers game, at least a quarter of the stadium cheered for the visiting Monsters of the Midway. In our section, I sat next to a man who had moved from Chicago to southern California in 1979. He was still pulling for Chicago even after soaking up two decades of West Coast sun, resisting the easy temptation of jumping on the Chargers bandwagon now that they no longer suck. And he still talked like a Super Fan.
The game was a typical Bears game. The defense played outstanding football, keeping the Chargers from doing much of anything on offense for the first half. The San Diego fans got quiet pretty quickly as the Bears shut down the NFL's best player, running back Ladanlian Tomlinson. "I guess this isn't a Nike commercial!" I yelled at the surrounding Charger fans, referring to LT's recent TV spot where he ran roughshod over the Bears. At one point as the Charger fans behind us got pissed about San Diego's conservative play calling. I turned around and said, "I thought you guys fired Marty Schottenheimer." There's nothing like marching into another teams house and running your flag up their pole. Chicago was up 3-0 at the half, and I thought if they could score a TD when they got the ball to start the second half, they could probably win the game, and we'd be chanting "Super Bears, Super Bowl" with the other Grabowskis.
Of course, that would involve the Bears offense actually scoring. Instead, they shit the bed, fumbling twice in the second half, and also turning it over on a goofy punt that hit a Bears player. The Chargers are too good to not capitalize on that many mistakes, and they finally managed to score 14 points and win 14-3. Grossman didn't play very well but he was definitely not a first-string goat compared to the butterfingers running backs.
The Charger fans gave us a good ribbing as we left in our blue and orange regalia. They were pretty nice--at Soldier Field, I am sure much would have been said about the sexual preferences of San Diego fans and their mothers. At Qualcomm Stadium, it was mostly, "Too bad, Bears fans," with "Bears suck" being about as bad as it got. One guy said, "Hope you enjoyed the weather," which I couldn't help but laugh at.
As we walked out of the stadium, we spotted a Bear fan sitting on the curb. He was shirtless, his torso completely covered in blue and orange body paint. He spotted us in our Bears shirts, shook his head, and took a mournful drag on his cigarette. That pretty much said it all.
At least the weather was great.