Tonight marks the 187th game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, and you’re probably wondering, “What’s the big deal?”
Well, Casual Monday Night Football fans, here are some of the pivotal moments that stoked the fire of a rivalry that began over 90 years ago– when George Halas and his Chicago Staley’s took on Earl Louis “Curly” Lambeau’s Green Bay Packers.
1920: The APFC (later to be called the NFL) is founded in a car dealership parking lot in Canton, Ohio. Original teams include the Akron Pros, the Canton Bulldogs, the Rock Island Independents, the Decatur Staleys and the Cleveland Steamers. The Green Bay Packers are shut out of this initial meeting, as Curly Lambeau spends the entire meeting in the bathroom, courtesy of a “chocolate candy bar” given to him by George Halas, thus starting a rivalry for the ages.
1921: The Chicago Staleys and the Green Bay Packers play their first game. Leather helmets are mandatory. Leather pants are optional.
1922: Halas changes his team’s name to the Chicago Bears. In response, Lambeau changes his team’s name to The Green Bay Twinks. The change does not stick.
1924: The first player ejections in NFL history take place after a fight during a Bears/Packers game. The first NFL crowd fight takes place the same day, as a man wearing a large wedge of Swiss cheese on his head is beaten savagely by a man wearing a brown bear pelt. The argument apparently started over the fallout from the Teapot Dome Scandal and confusion about the forward pass.
1933: Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall proposes new names for the entire NFL. Midwestern fans reject the names the “Green Bay Drunken Micks” and the “Chicago Heebies.”
1939: Mike Ditka is born, a star appears in the East, and wise men bring frankincense, gold and myrrh to honor him.
1943: With a large number of NFL players drafted into the armed services and owners struggling to keep fan attention, a game is held featuring actual bears vs. actual meat packers.
1944: The opening day contest begins with a moment of silence for the 38 dead meat packers.
1947: George Halas gives sworn testimony to HUAC that Curly Lambeau is a Communist. In response, Lambeau is blacklisted from coaching. He continues coaching under the pseudonym “Robert Rich,” and is surprisingly awarded an Oscar for his work on The Brave One in 1956.
1959: The Packers hire Vince Lombardi, the last man on Earth who will be able to wear a trench coat and fedora without looking like a pervert.
1961: The Bears draft Mike Ditka, thus fulfilling ancient prophecies.
1964: Bears QB Rudy Bukich causes a near-riot when a gaggle of teenage girls storm Lambeau Field to get close to his “mop-top” hairdo. Order is restored when Packers QB Bart Starr removes his helmet and reveals his bald spot.
1967: The Packers win the first-ever Superbowl 35-10 against the KC Chiefs. Green Bay WR Max McGee later appears (while viciously hungover) on American Bandstand to dance the Super Bowl Watusi… it does not catch on, yet a young future Punky QB is inspired.
1969: The Bears and Packers play their final game at Wrigley Field. The start is delayed by a sit-in led by Bears QB Bobby Douglass, who is just “looking to get some of that free love, baby.”
1980: The Bears humiliate the Packers 61-7. Adding insult to injury, following the game, Bears DT Dan Hampton gives Packers QB Lynn Dickey a wedgie.
1985: The Bears record “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” while no one in Green Bay understands what rap music is.
1986: Mike Ditka delivers the Bears a Super Bowl win as they handily defeat the Patriots 46-10. He celebrates by sleeping with Green Bay coach Forrest Gregg’s wife, reigniting the dormant hatred between the two teams.
1986: Packers DE Charles Martin body slams a defenseless Jim McMahon to the ground, separating his shoulder and dashing the Bears’ hopes for a title defense. In retaliation, Bears DT William “The Refrigerator” Perry challenges Martin to a hot dog eating contest. Perry wins by a score of 102 hot dogs to Martin’s 78. When told he had already won, Perry exclaimed, “Out of my way! There’s hot dogs that are needin’ to be eaten’!”
1992: Brett Favre is obtained from the Atlanta Falcons. A cold, still wind blows across Lake Michigan that day– sending a chill down the spines of Bears fans everywhere.
1995: Favre beats the Bears in his typical 4th quarter heroic style, but the victory is tainted when a TV camera catches Brett snorting crushed Vicodin off of Mark Chmura’s helmet.
1999: Bears DT Bryan Robinson credits the ghost of Walter Payton with blocking a last-minute Packers field goal attempt and the Bears hang on to win 14-13. Unfortunately, Walter’s ghost is busy during the second game in December, where the Packers dominate 35-19.
2003: This writer loses a Bears vs. Packers beer chugging contest in the parking lot of Lambeau Field that was televised in Rockford. It was a moral victory, as the Packers fan went on to chug several more items, including a carton of Egg Beaters, and then proceeded to vomit.
2004: Bears coach Lovie Smith beats Green Bay for his first win as an NFL head coach. Bears fans immediately call for his firing.
2006: In a moment that could even make a Bears fan choke up, Brett Favre cries during an emotional postgame interview where he questions whether or not he will return to pro football the next season.
2007-2010: Favre cries in postgame interviews questioning whether or not he will return to pro football the next season.
2008: The Packers receive the unfair gift of having yet another franchise quarterback in Aaron Rogers, who forces Brett Favre out. Meanwhile, the Bears trade for Jay Cutler, who resembles Favre in every way– except for being impervious to injury, winning big games in dramatic fashion and being able to earn the unconditional love of the fans.
2013: Aaron “Discount Double Check” Rodgers is forced to sit in a middle seat in Economy between two Bears fans in flagrant disregard of FAA policy, as they are using open flames to cook sausages onboard.
Scott Goldstein is a 3rd-generation Bears season ticket holder and a former Director for the Second City Touring Company. When he is not cheering on the Bears and booing the Packers, he can be found directing, teaching and performing all over Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @GoldyHawks.