First, let me apologize to all the Packers fans out there. This piece will be written strictly from a Bears fan's perspective. Any attempts I make to sound neutral will be purely coincidental and unintentional.
I'm tempted to pinch myself to see if this isn't real. However, I know that such efforts would be fruitless and may result in large bruises on my body.
Yes, it's true: the Bears and Packers will be battling it out for the George Stanley Halas Trophy in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The winner gets to play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLV.
How rare of an event is this? For all the times these teams have met in the regular season, the last time they met in the playoffs was exactly one week after Pearl Harbor was bombed. You history buffs can figure out how long ago that was. That means the Cubs have won the pennant in the time since.
Historically, the Bears have won more head-to-head matchups. The Packers, meanwhile, have won more NFL titles. It's the oldest rivalry in the NFL and no two teams have had more success.
That said, this game will be bigger than each of the two Super Bowls the Bears appeared in, maybe even collectively. If Bears fans are smart, they'll do everything in their power to make sure as few Cheeseheads as possible pass through the turnstiles at Soldier Field on Sunday. Their team has the home-field advantage and they must do all they can to protect it.
This is a challenge Mike Ditka, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Walter Payton and Mike Singletary never got the chance to take up. While they all had great success in their careers and even ended up in the Hall of Fame, nothing their Bears teams ever did compares to what's about to go down.
True, some of them won championships here, but when did they ever get to play the hated Packers with such great stakes?
As a Bears fan myself, I have been frustrated by the Packers many times, primarily thanks to a certain quarterback who is now vilified up north. Since I started watching football in 1996, the Pack has won 20 of the 30 meetings with the Monsters of the Midway.
All of that will be washed away, though, if Urlacher, Briggs, Cutler and the rest of them show up and play like the planet hangs in the balance.
For reasons I may never fully understand, Packers fans are plentiful in this area and there are more of them here than fans of any other pro team outside of Chicago. In a Bears city, they're like cockroaches that infest an area like they have no business being there. Perhaps a Bears victory on Sunday will make them crawl back into hiding.
The same goes for the national media, which seems to have developed a love affair for the Packers. Remember, though, that also happened with the Saints when the Bears played them in the NFC title game a few years back. We all know how that turned out.
Don't say it can't happen again.
To my fellow Bears fans, remember that our team is "the pride and joy of Illinois." Let's remind the Packers fans around here just where their team is going to have to go through to earn that trip to Dallas.
Break out that orange and blue. We've got our founder's trophy to protect.