So, you want to know what turned me into a Chicago Bears fan?
I was only four years old when they did the Super Bowl Shuffle, so it wasn't that.
I was only six years old when Walter Payton retired, so it wasn't him.
They repeatedly missed the playoffs all throughout my teenage years (the beginning of my football fandom), so it wasn't the winning.
So, what was it, you ask?
I cannot explain to you why I am a fan of the Chicago Bears; I just am. It is just what I know.
It's kind of like how you pull into your driveway late at night coming home from a friend's house, and you don't remember a minute of how it is you got there.
Or, how you go to your high school reunion, see someone you haven't seen in twenty years, and immediately remember everything about them even though you haven't thought of them once in twenty years.
The Bears are that drive home for me. And, they're that familiar face I could forget every offseason, but see on every opening day and remember everything I thought I forgot.
Obviously, living in the Chicagoland area, all of the Bears games were televised every Sunday, Monday, Thursday, or Saturday. But, my dad was not a football fan, so it was not like it was mandated that the game was on. I just ended up watching it.
As a youngster, my dad, brother, and I would all watch wrestling every Sunday when we came home from church.
That was up until I learned better, and realized football was the better contact sport to watch when arriving home after sitting through an old man saying a sermon and some even older ladies singing about something I knew nothing about, nor cared about at that time.
But, something kept bringing me back to the Neal Anderson Bears.
Yes, that's right. I said Neal Anderson.
He was the first player I remember liking on the Bears teams.
But, just as I started to like him, he became obsolete. He started missing games, and before I knew it, he was gone into the deep abyss of those no-name legends of the game.
Looking back at the team rosters after that, I can't imagine who it was that made me keep liking the Bears.
Erik Kramer, Curtis Enis, Rashaan Salaam, Curtis Conway, Jeff Graham, and the list goes on with a bunch of guys that nobody will remember in 20 years, other than us Bears fans.
We have wallowed in mediocrity for a lifetime, it seems. Well, for me, it has been a lifetime. Even when we are winning, it seems like we are doing it with less talent and more grit and determination.
And, yes, it feels good to win games that way, but every once in a while we just wish we could be watching Jerry Rice catch balls, or Barry Sanders juke defenses, or have Joe Montana passing to our receivers. It would be great to see that type of talent in a Bears uniform every Sunday, Monday, Thursday, or Saturday.
Now, I sit on my couch for every game, watching alone, watching my instinct.
They are my team. I don't know quite how to explain it, but they are.