Sports

Save the hate--Bears won't take the bait

For all the adrenaline and testosterone crammed into an NFL season, football players can be awfully sedate.

If the Bears are at all anxious to face Detroit and quarterback nightmare Ndamukong Suh on Sunday, they don't show it.

Good luck getting players to admit this game is any more important than a ho-hum tilt against lowly Jacksonville, save for the all-important standings boost a victory would mean.

"There's not some, 'Oh yeah, we're playing Detroit this week; we hate Detroit,' " third-year safety Anthony Walters said. "That's not the mentality at all. The mentality is one game at a time, and the reality is if we beat them this week, we're two up [on the Lions in the NFC North]."

OK, you'd expect that from a player who hasn't seen as many on-field shoving matches as others. What about a 16-year veteran like Patrick Mannelly?

"I think anytime you play a division team it's a little more heated, just because you see them twice a year," he said. "Being with a team as long as I've been, I've played against some of those guys for a long time. I wouldn't call it fighting your brother, but it's just the familiarity of the rivalry maybe intensifies a little bit just because you're sick of seeing each other so much."

Fans with siblilngs can relate. So if the Bears-Green Bay rivalry is a "10," atop the scale, then Bears-Detroit is …

"… a 10," Walters said.

"To me … they're all the same," Mannelly said. "To win [against a division foe] is a little bit more than winning another game as far as playoff implications and things like that."

Uh, nice try, guys. You won't get ANY Bears fan to say Bears-Lions is bigger than Bears-Packers. Point taken, though—as a player, the Zen mindset has advantages.

Even so, you mean to say this rivalry isn't nasty in the least?

"No, I think the biggest thing is we're all competing, trying to win," defensive lineman Corey Wootton said.

Not even after Suh bashed Jay Cutler in the head, WWE-style, in 2010, or turned his shoulder into pudding last season?

"All divisional games are tough," return man Eric Weems said. "So it's gonna get a little chippy every now and then. We don't see it as escalating."

And if Suh were to swing an elbow at you, how you would react?

"Probably like a ninja," safety Craig Steltz said, striking his best Bruce Lee stance and simultaneously defusing potential bulletin-board material.

Yep. If taking the high road fails, that would do the trick.

Chris Sosa is RedEye's sports editor. @redeyesportschi

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