For the love, and frustration, of the game

Like many other new fans of the National Football League, I found my love of professional American football through Fantasy Football. My father was in a league where there was a $40 buy-in league, and I remember that my first draft, I selected David Wilson early on for my team. His career, along with my team’s playoff success, swiftly imploded. I was pissed that the $40 had been for naught, and I decided that I would be good at this cultural phenomenon.

My first real victory came on the back of the rookie wide-receiver phenom, Odell Beckham Jr. I picked the New York Giant’s star off of the virtual waiver-wire hoping that I could somehow claim the $250 prize that awaited the champion. Beckham Jr. was my salvation, racking up 1305 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns off of 91 catches. I won that year, and although a car accident that only teenage idiocy could bring forced me to give up the prize money to my father, I was hooked on Fantasy Football…but not quite hooked on football itself yet.

I think a lot of my issue was that I didn’t have an identity as a fan. I’m from Illinois so the team that I should have been a fan of was the Chicago Bears, but they fucking sucked, and I was cautious to jump headfirst into a lifelong relationship with a pile of fecal matter. So I kept floating on, lacking a true dedication to a team. With no front office to bemoan and no star player’s poster to hang above my twin-sized dorm bed, I really had no passion for the sport.

First year coach Nagy and Mitch Trubisky (via USA Today)

This year, the Bear’s have had massive, breakout success, going 8–3 (thus far) and leading their historically competitive division. Nagy’s clever offensive mind combined with a talented, but inconsistent young quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky and plenty of offensive play-makers like the speedster Taylor Gabriel, the glass cannon Tarik Cohen, and the big-catch guy Allen Robinson, have made the Bears one of the most watchable teams in the NFL. Their defense makes plays and is elite in nearly every single category. Their special team play-making under the aforementioned Cohen has the capacity for explosiveness. And Nagy’s mad scientist play-calling always has me paying attention. If anything, the inconsistencies just make the Bears more interesting.

What has made me fall in love with this team though is the unity. There is absolute faith in everyone to do their jobs. When Cody Parkey missed a historic four kicks via upright collision, Nagy did not make snide comments to the press, but instead doubled-down on his confidence in the oft-mediocre kicker. Khalil Mack’s excellence has been a rallying cry for the fanbase, as well as the collective hope that GM Ryan Pace’s gamble on Trubisky pays off.

Ultimately, what I am trying to say is that I am so full of gratitude to this Chicago Bears team for instilling that passion that I was missing. I find my Youtube searches drifting into 1985 Bears games and Matt Forte highlights, I have gotten into too many “Mitch Trubisky — bust?” arguments, and I have began snarling at the sight of Packer wear. I wake up excited every Sunday morning, yes — for fantasy football, but also to indulge in the agony and ecstasy of being a Bears fan.