No team gets Bears fans more worked up than Green Bay. Yet recently the Detroit Lions have crawled deeper beneath Chicago's skin. RedEye asked Bears fans to take stock of their emotions surrounding their NFC North rivals.
1. Describe your emotions during the week leading up to a Bears-Lions game. (For the Lions fan, flip Bears-Lions to Lions-Bears. For the Packers and Vikings fan, swap out Bears for their team.)
MATT CLAPP, 29, Denver, @dabearnecess
Probably 90 percent of the time in the week leading up to a Bears-Lions game, my thoughts are, "The Bears better not lose this." And the Bears have actually won nine of their last 10 games vs. the Lions. But it makes me a train wreck in the week leading up to it, because it feels like a must-win. And I hate watching a game with that feeling.
But this year is different. The Lions are 2-1 and I really believe they're a legitimately good team; they really scare me, especially at home. To me, on paper, this is the Bears' toughest game yet. So it's definitely not a normal pre-Bears-Lions feeling.
CURTIS SHAW FLAGG, 28, Belmont Gardens, @curtisshawflagg
The week leading up to a Bears-Lions game I usually have a roller coaster of emotion. It begins with excitement, noting that the Bears have a 96-65-5 edge over Detroit in the history of the two franchises. Then I remember Megatron, so the excitement turns into nervousness as I recall the "tuck rule" that allowed the Bears to squeak by three seasons ago. After I digest that, I also think of how pretentious head coach Jim Schwartz seems and it turns into all-out vitriol. Sheesh.
PHIL KIJAK, 32, Lakeview, @kilphijak
A mix of bloodlust and sympathy. The Lions are a bitter rival, yet I wouldn't mind seeing them finally win a Super Bowl. I feel like their fan base has earned it, but not at the expense of a Bears Super Bowl berth.
LESTER WILTFONG JR., 43, Kenosha, Wis., @wiltfongjr
The Lions have been historically bad, save for a few of the Barry Sanders years, so I've always thought the Bears would come out victorious. The last few years however, these two teams have played some competitive games. There's been some bad blood, with "the TD that wasn't" from a couple years ago, the Suh shenanigans and Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, who is just so easy to dislike.
MARTIN MacPHERSON, @beardownuk
Always nervous. The NFL is all about parity and this is a division game that could put the Bears in a great position for the postseason already.
PETER KREMIDAS, LIONS FAN, 31, Roscoe Village, @Pkremidas
I'm always nervous. Week to week I have no idea what team will show up. Sometimes they're awesome. Other times they're the Lions. Matthew Stafford is having a great year though.
TONY THE PACKERS FAN, @allday427, 31, Rogers Park
Packers-Lions week is no big deal. They are the least-feared divisional team since Tampa Bay left. They are undisciplined and find ways to beat themselves. Their secondary has been so bad for so long that you can spot them two touchdowns and still expect to win easily.
G THE VIKINGS FAN, @generalspeaks, 33, Gold Coast
My emotions leading up to a Vikings-Lions game is that of the favorite. I expect to win but with the Vikings' illustrious past, the thought of losing always creeps in. We've beaten them so much that it's like that guy you always beat in 1-on-1 and he finally wins, it makes you questions yourself. To sum it up I feel like we SHOULD win, but this is the Vikes we're talking about.
2. How do you feel after your team loses to the Lions? How do you feel after they beat the Lions? (For the Lions fan, flip this with the Bears.)
CLAPP: Beating the Lions is more of a sigh of relief than anything. And losing feels like a disaster that will pretty much ruin my upcoming week, as pathetic as that sounds.
FLAGG: After the Bears beat the Lions, I feel like the world is headed in the right direction. When the Bears lose to the Lions, I blame it directly on Obamacare.
KIJAK: Losing to the Lions always hurts, no matter how good they are. Beating the Lions lately has felt like a big accomplishment. They may not be a consistent playoff team, but they bring it for every divisional game.
WILTFONG JR: It's always good to see the Bears win, even more so against a divisional opponent. The flip side of that is true too. Dropping a game inside the NFC North is always bad news. With the Lions, since they aren't in the Packers' class, a loss is extra sour, because it's a game you expect the Bears to win.
MACPHERSON: The Bears losing always puts me in a bad mood, especially against a team we should beat and even more so when I can't stand the opponent. By the same token beating them is amazingly good and lifts me up. Maybe it restores my faith that the bully can get their just desserts.
PETER THE LIONS FAN: I like Chicago because I live here and this city is awesome. So on some level, I'm glad the team from the city I'm from won. But I'm more disappointed as a Lions fan. Especially since the refs hand you guys victories on a platter when we play you because the NFL hates Detroit along with the rest of America. (This includes Detroit itself.)
After the Lions beat the Bears, I feel great about it. And I tell my Bears fan friends to stop underestimating us. Then when I'm alone I breathe into a paper sack.
TONY THE PACKERS FAN: Losing to the Lions is embarrassing. The last time they beat us, they knocked Rodgers out of the game in the first half. Rodgers owns that team. Beating them doesn't feel like much of anything. Nowhere near beating the Bears or Vikings.
G THE VIKINGS FAN: It feels bad to lose period, but to lose to the Lions, the perennial divisional bottom feeder, it hurts, because if you lose to them it most likely means you've taken their spot at the bottom :(
3. When was the last time you felt the Lions held an unquestionable emotional advantage over your team? How long did that feeling last? (For the Lions fan, flip this with the Bears.)
CLAPP: Have they ever? But seriously, one thing you have to keep in mind is expectations for the Lions' fans. When the Lions went 10-6 in 2011, it was a huge, huge deal for the franchise and their fans. The Bears go 10-6 last year, fans are upset and the head coach is fired.
KIJAK: 2011, when they made the playoffs. Seeing the Lions make it after Cutler's injury was pure salt in the wound. We really had a shot that year.
WILTFONG JR.: Never. Even when they had Barry Sanders, they had mediocre quarterback play, so I always thought the Bears had a legitimate shot at picking up the W.
MACPHERSON: That's a great question. Can only think the 2011 season when they were rejuvenated and beat us at Ford Field. It ended with a thorough kicking at Soldier Field.
PETER THE LIONS FAN: 2011 early in the season. Detroit was so fired up about this team. "Restore the roar" and all that. We had some great comeback victories and made the playoffs. It was a good time. Of course, this was immediately followed by prolonged and extreme disappointment.
TONY THE PACKERS FAN: I cannot remember a time when I've had that feeling.
G THE VIKINGS FAN: Never. The Lions were bullied as a child, thus the complex they've developed as adults.
4. If the football gods placed Ndamukong Suh on your team with no added salary cap implications, would you take him? (For the Lions fan, Do you like Suh?)
CLAPP: Absolutely. While Ndamukong Suh is an incredibly dirty football player (no matter what he tries to tell you), and may never "get it" on and off the field, his talent and abilities on the football field are undeniable.
FLAGG: Not if they paid us. Too many penalties, off-the-field issues and a "me-first" attitude. This is the exact opposite of what the Bears' organization stands for. Plus, Pepper is healthier than salt.
KIJAK: Yes. Suh is a perfect villain: loved by his home fans, great philanthropist, but vicious on the field. Chicago has a history of openly accepting stars with a murky reputation: Dennis Rodman, Daniel Carcillo, Joakim Noah, Jay Cutler. All he would have to do is play well and the city would embrace him 100 percent. Laying out Matt Stafford would help.
WILTFONG: Most definitely yes. He's a beast, and probably the most disruptive defensive tackle in the game today. It would be like Dennis Rodman being the biggest Bad Boy thug as a Piston, but as a Bull, he was loved for his hard-nosed play.
MACPHERSON: To be honest, a rookie Suh would be almost priceless to our defense and I would take him in a heartbeat. But it seems he has been let down in guidance since he entered the NFL and has been encouraged to play with the composure of a child. He is an all-time talent, but instead of watching his play we are just waiting for the next fine or suspension. I would pass right now especially as a lot of the veteran locker room presence has gone or likely gone soon.
PETER THE LIONS FAN: Yes I do. He's a great player. But the media has a witch-hunt on this guy and it's ridiculous. He gets cheap shots at his knees every single week. Nobody cares. He is not any dirtier than anybody else in the NFL but they need a story and/or a villian. I think the stomp incident was uncalled for and stupid even if that player was taking cheap shots at his knees the whole game. He never intentionally kicked Matt Schaub. The tackle from this season got way more attention than it deserved.
TONY THE PACKERS FAN: Yes. Suh is a phenomenal athlete. The Lions' lack of discipline starts with Jim Schwartz. I think Suh could have a much different reputation on a different team. He's a hell of an athlete.
G THE VIKINGS FAN: Hell yes! Everyone complains about nasty when it's being done TO them, but when nasty is on your side—well suddenly he's just a physical guy who plays a little after the whistle. Everyone wants someone nasty on their side, an enforcer, someone who the other team knows will retaliate if any funny business takes place.
5. Rank the fans of the other three NFC North teams 1-10 based on your distaste for them, 10 being the fan base you dislike most:
CLAPP: Lions 3, Packers 4, Vikings 7. I really don't hate any of these fan bases, believe it or not. I'm a Cubs fan, so I relate to Lions fans quite well. And I've yet to deal with a Lions fan that really bothered me.
FLAGG: Lions: 8 (Can't really hold too much against a franchise that hasn't won a playoff game since 1991). Vikings: 9. Packers: 100 (Where do I start …)
KIJAK: Lions 5, Packers 7, Vikings 10
WILTFONG JR.: Packers 6, Vikings 6, Lions 8
MACPHERSON: Lions 3, Vikings 3, Packers 10
PETER THE LIONS FAN: I have friends who fall into each of these categories. And they're all cool people who I like. I really can't say a bad thing about any of them. Now, that being said, Bears fans are the loudest, drunkest, rudest people in any sport anywhere. But they seem to be proud of that so I don't think that's an insult.
TONY THE PACKERS FAN: Lions 4, Bears 7, Vikings 10.
G THE VIKINGS FAN: I have a lot family from Michigan. I was born there, so I empathize with their situation. After all, if you cheer for the Lions it means you live in or near Detroit! Haha. I would give them a 5. Bears fans are an 8. Packers fans are a 10. They've experienced too much success and are delusionally annoying.
Jack M. Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. @readjack
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