A few weeks back I made a slideshow depicting my five favorite moments as a Chicago Bear fan from the past decade.
Even though the 218 article reads it received didn't exactly scream for a follow-up piece, I did get a good response from much of the fanbase. And we all know that being a fan means we are forced to share not only in the glory of good times, but also the heinousness of bad ones.
In that spirit, I have countered the previously mentioned list with this one, the five most cringe worthy moments I have witnessed with my beloved team over the past 10 years. I should note one of the hardest moments, Walter Payton's death, is likely a topper for most, but I have chosen to focus on moments that affected the team on the field.
Also, the drafting of Cade McNown would no doubt be on the list, but the April 17 date of his selection means he narrowly missed eligibility (though I guess watching him play counts for something).
I hope reading this is proves to be as displeasing as writing it was.
What was most depressing about this list was not how easy it was to come up with five horrid moments, but rather the ease I was able to come up with ten. Below are five additional moments that wouldn't be out of place on anyone's disastrous moments list:
* Loosing to Philadelphia in the 2001 Divisional Playoffs
* All of the "Bad Rex" games of 2006-2007
* The Quinn, Krenzel, Hutchinson and George (I know he didn't play, but the fact Jeff George was on the roster was appalling anyway) QB carousel of 2004.
* Mike Brown's ruptured achilles at Green Bay in 2004 and the horrific domino effect of injuries it created.
* The emotional crash that came with following a conference championship in 2006 with a 7-9 record in 2007.
The 2002 season was a harsh comedown from a miracle 13-3 campaign in 2001. Several bouts of wondrous luck the previous year were going the other way, and nothing stung worse than an overtime loss at Detroit in week 7.
The Bears came off a bye needing a win to pull back to .500 after three strait losses. They were nursing a 20-17 lead, with :05 to play, when the Lions gambled and attempted to score a go ahead touchdown from the Bears 1.
Luckily, Cornerback Larry Whingman made the Lions pay as he blindsided Joey Harrington, giving the Bears a much needed win.
Or so we thought.
As it happend, Detroit rookie Tight End Matt Murphy (pictured above) jumped offsides, but the noise at Ford Field was so loud, no one heard the whistle stopping the play dead, nullifying Whingham's game saving play.
To summarize, by not knowing the snap count, Murphy actually saved his team with a foolish penalty. Two field goals later, the Lions had a 23-20 win, giving the Bears one of several heartbreaking losses in a 4-12 season.
A valuable lesson was learned on this day. If you are out lucked by the Detroit Lions at any point, your season is a wash.
It makes me sad to think that the loudest I yelled in elation during the 2008 season occurred mere minutes before witnessing the most improbably late game collapse I have ever seen.
And yet no individual moment I can recollect made me as excited as when Kyle Orton hit Rashied Davis in the back of the end zone to give the Bears their first lead of the day with :11 to play. It was a sensational feeling; quickly followed by a sickening one.
Bear fans sat relieved only to be jolted into shock when a botched squib kick and a Matt Ryan to Michael Jenkins completion in a mere 10 seconds set Jason Elam who drilled a 47 yard kick as time expired, giving the Falcons a 22-20 win.
I don't know how the stunned silence played out for most, but for me and the two friends I watched the game with, I'd say it was on par with the awkwardness that follows an impromptu make out session that no party wanted to be a part of.
Oh, and the icing on the cake; had the rest of the season played out like it did, both teams would have finished 10-6, and the win would have secured the Bears a tie-breaker, thus earning them the wild card spot held by the Falcons. Awesome.
In some ways, the Bears loss to Carolina in the 2005 playoffs was more frustrating than the Super Bowl loss of the following season.
When one dissects the Super Bowl, it can be concluded maybe Indianapolis was a better team. I will never accept this to be true about the Panthers.
The Bears boasted a defense which had given up the fewest points in the league in '05, and were facing an offense with exactly one legitimate weapon, receiver Steve Smith. Instead of having the good sense to smother him, Lovie Smith and Ron Rivera elected rather to cover him man-to-man.
The strategy took a mere :52 to backfire, as Smith raced past a stumbling Charles Tillman to give Carolina an early lead.
Un-phased by Smith's torching of their best corner, the Bears decided to change things up. Sadly, the change didn't come via game plan. No, the Bears decided if Charles Tillman couldn't cover Smith, surely Chris Thompson (whose been active for exactly zero NFL games since) could.
But like Peanut, Thompson also tumbled to the ground as Smith torched him for another score. Smith finished the game with 218 yards, and the Bears, despite a respectable effort by a usually stagnant offense, were bounced by the score of 29-21.
The worst part of all this was in the NFC Championship game, Seattle proved all it took to shut this Panther offense down was smothering Steve Smith.
They literally had four men on him at all times, and Jake Delhomme, whose jumping up and down on the Soldier Field grass like a Ritalin deprived dipshit is permanently tattooed on my brain, couldn't have looked more scared if he was playing at gun point.
If I had been part of the committee who elected Lovie Coach of the Year that season, this game may have been enough for me to have asked him to give it back.
There are so many things to find offensive about Cedric Benson (the laziness, the injuries, the inability to get along with teammates, the alcoholism, etc.) yet the most offensive trait he ever showed was the few weeks in 2006 when he actually played well.
While I wouldn't say he flourished, Benson played fairly well in a backup role at the end of the season, seemingly indicating the team would be ok if and when Jerry Angelo elected to ship Thomas Jones in favor his top-five pick.
It only took a few games of watching this Luciferistic dope hit the ground before anyone could hit him too hard (which didn't pan out as he still went on IR in week 12) to realize trading Jones was a terrible mistake.
Drafting Matt Forte and releasing Benson has absolved Angelo of bitter feelings from me, but as long as my memory persists, I will struggle not to vomit at any remembrance of this waste of life in a Bears uniform.
The most comical aspect of Benson's career is that he was somehow able to convince the Cincinnati Bengals he was worth signing to fill the lead role he failed so miserably at in Chicago.
It's a true testament to Bengals management that in a modern NFL where even the great Adrian Peterson shares carries, they feel this guy can be a stand along back. It's hard (by which I mean, easy) to understand why they've only been to the playoffs once since 1990.
I don't imagine anyone reading this list will let out a surprised gasp when they discover this as my most hated of moment from the past 10 years. While this may be a predictable choice, it's also an obvious one.
All the optimism that began with Devin Hester's 92 yard return of the opening kickoff (a play I've YouTubed so many times I've memorized the call) took a staggering blow with several fiasco's, like Daniel Manning deciding there was no need to cover Reggie Wayne.
The Bears stayed in the game however, but all optimism ended when two Rex Grossman fourth quarter interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, sealed a 29-17 Colts win that sent Bear fans everywhere into a lengthy state of numb depression.
Making matters worse for me (and several others I'm sure) was having to endure the loss in an area firmly populated by Colt fans, the single worst fan base in sports. Much worse than even Packer fans, becasue most Packer fans I meet at least seem to have a sense of understanding about the game of football.
To be taunted the next day by a girl who believed Dwight Freeney to have been responsible for the fourth quarter pick-six was unbearable.
It also hasn't helped that the Bears have not only been able to get back to the Super Bowl since, they haven't even gotten back to the playoffs. Hopefully both (but I'll honestly settle for just one) dry spells end in 2009.