Packers vs. Bears and Other NFL Rivalries We Want to See Renewed
The word "rivalry" gets tossed around a lot these days. Geographic rivalries, divisional rivalries, traditional rivalries, classic rivalries, protected rivalries—the businessmen of football would have you believe almost every game has a little bit extra meaning.
In the modern NFL, though, real rivalries are rare.
A rivalry isn't just when two teams play each other a lot, or when two teams are in the same division. A rivalry is when the fans, coaches or players of two different teams can't stand each other. When they all count down the days until they can face each other again.
When weddings are rescheduled to fall on a different weekend, that's a rivalry. When labor is induced so the parents (and baby!) can make the game, that's a rivalry. When practices run long and locker room bulletin boards are covered past their frames with newspaper clippings, that's a rivalry.
In days gone by, such rivalries were commonplace. But in the free-agency era, few teams put together the kind of young, talented nucleus you need for a decade or more of intense clashes. If the same teams, with the same players and coaches, aren't playing important games over and over for years, there won't be a chance for those games to get personal.
There are a few historic rivalries that transcend generations, though. They're more than one coach having beef with another or one team looking for revenge from the last game. They're geographic, divisional, generational. They're handed down from father to daughter, from mother to son, referenced in the halls of government and in the presence of God on Sunday.
Some of these real rivalries, unfortunately, have fallen to the wayside in recent years. There haven't been enough meaningful games recently to keep the blood boiling.
Following are the rivalries we want to see renewed.
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
They say familiarity breeds contempt, and nothing breeds more contempt in sports like two nearby towns that just don't like each other. Just 135 miles apart, the blue-collar cities of Cleveland and Pittsburgh have an awful lot in common—and that makes this rivalry all the more intense.
Like many great feuds, there's mixed blood, crossed lines and defectors. Legendary Steelers head coach Chuck Noll was born and raised in Cleveland, was drafted by the Browns and played all seven of his NFL seasons for them, per Pro Football Reference.
Another legendary Steelers head coach, Bill Cowher, played for the Browns, and despite hailing from the Pittsburgh suburbs, he began his coaching career running the Browns' special teams.
As Mike Bires of Timesonline.com explains, the Steelers' recent dominance of the "Turnpike Rivalry" has made it seem irrelevant to many: The Steelers are 29-5 since 1992. But the lack of competitiveness has barely blunted the edge this rivalry's had; Steelers linebacker James Harrison's hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy last year had Browns fans seething:
Browns fans hope new quarterback Brandon Weeden will lead them back to competitiveness; Steelers fans hope they'll be able to maintain their status as perennial title contenders. For NFL fans who don't root for either team, the league is more intriguing when these two teams are playing for all the marbles.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders
It's been a long time since both the Chiefs and the Raiders were perennial contenders, and even longer since they were potent at the same time. But this rivalry is as historically significant as any in the NFL.
Lamar Hunt and Al Davis are known to younger NFL fans as the late former owners of the Chiefs and Raiders, respectively. What they may not know is that Davis was an excellent head coach who pushed the game forward by incorporating the revolutionary vertical passing concepts of Sid Gillman and Don Coryell.
Davis became commissioner of the AFL and aggressively pursued signing NFL talent, trying desperately to become the premier pro football league in the world. Meanwhile, Hunt worked with Dallas Cowboys President Tex Schramm to merge with the NFL. Once that agreement was in place, Davis bought a stake in the Raiders, and the rivalry was on.
The Raiders and Chiefs fought bitterly for AFL and NFL supremacy throughout the late '60s, the '70s and the early '80s. However, the Chiefs owned the 1990s, winning 18 of 21 contests while the Raiders floundered to find an identity. The Raiders got a 5-3 respite during Jon Gruden's tenure, but won only one of 10 in the following five years.
The Chiefs and Raiders split their annual series in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011, but none of those games came in the playoffs. Neither team has been a serious contender in quite some time, and it's been since the Davis/Hunt glory days that both teams were consistently good at the same time.
These two teams, and the men behind them, have so much history of excellence, competitiveness and bitter, bitter hate that it's time to see that rivalry restored to its historic greatness.
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Redskins GM Bruce Allen filled in for Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King and recalled the time legendary Chicago Bears coach and owner George Halas taught him his first "cuss word" (per Kevin Seifert, ESPN.com):
"You can only use this word on a really bad person, someone you really hate or who did something very very bad." He then made me acknowledge that I understood, to which I responded: "Yes, Coach!" After what seemed like the longest minute ever, he turned around and said one word with an intensity that I had never seen: "PACKER." And then he added: "Don't tell your mom I told you!"
The Bears and Green Bay Packers have the oldest rivalry in the NFL. The two teams have met 182 times over the past 91 years, per this brilliant article by Tim Layden of SI.com. For generations, this border battle has been a blood feud between championship organizations.
But since Brett Favre took over as the Packers' starting quarterback in 1992, the Packers lead the series 29-11. The Packers have made 15 playoff appearances, the Bears just five.
In that stretch, the Bears have four division titles, but the Packers have eight. The Bears made it to the 2006 Super Bowl, but the Packers have three Super Bowl appearances—and two championships.
In 2009, the Bears took advantage of the Packers' injury woes and claimed the NFC North title. But the Packers snuck into the playoffs as the sixth seed, beat the Bears in the NFC Championship Game and won their fourth Super Bowl title.
In 2011, it looked as though the Bears and Packers would again square off for the NFC North title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. But injuries to the Bears' star quarterback, Jay Cutler, and running back, Matt Forte, imploded their season.
In 2012, the Packers and Bears are again set to renew their rivalry. If the Bears can successfully avenge their NFC Championship Game loss, there's no doubt Packers-Bears will again be the greatest, most defining rivalry of the NFL.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?