NFC North rivalries

It’s been interesting to read all of the stories about the supposedly bitter Packers-Bears rivalry. It all sounds rather manufactured, whereas if this had been Packers-Vikes, everyone would be at Def-Con 5. You see, having married a Wisconsinite, I’m not exactly unfamiliar with Packers fans. And while the Bears, with their storied NFL history and legendary Hall of Fame players, are no doubt deeply respected by both Vikings fans and Packers fans alike, I don’t think I’ve ever known a single Packers fan to be more obsessed with the Bears than they are with the Vikings, even though the Bears have been to two more Super Bowls than the Vikings since the end of the 1970s. And on sites like ProFootballTalk, Packers fans are CONSTANTLY sniping at the Vikings, never at the Bears.

For example, is there even a single pejorative term they habitually use to describe the Bears? I could give you a comprehensive list of the ones that are used to describe the Vikings, starting with Vi-Queens and working down from there. (They are a clever lot, aren’t they.) In fact, I tend to suspect that even the claim the Bears are the Packers’ primary divisional rivals is one that is manufactured in a futile attempt to get under the skin of Vikings fans. Which, of course, is useless, since Vikings fans don’t usually care much what Packers fans do or think, except to be amused by them when they get suicidal over losing to the Vikes. (Packers fans put this down to our supposedly fair-weather nature, when it’s just down to actually having other entertainment options than obsessing over who will be the third-string right tackle… in June.)

The strangest thing was the way Packers fans thought we were lording it over them last year when Favre decided to play in purple. This wasn’t the case at all; they still care about him far more than we ever did even when he was winning games for us. It wasn’t Favre that particularly excited us so much as the fact that The Tarvaris Jackson Experiment wasn’t behind center.

Now, there is nothing in football I love more than seeing the Vikings beat the Packers, but I’m actually quite pleased to see two NFC Central (North) teams playing for the NFC Championship, even if I’m vaguely nauseous at the thought of either of them, much less the Steelers, winning another Super Bowl. I don’t know which team I’d rather see win; I tend to prefer the Packers since I like the small town ownership arrangement and honor the memory of the late, great Reggie White. On the other hand, the thought of Jay Cutler, Super Bowl MVP offers serious humor potential. So, I’ll probably just watch and enjoy the game.

And, of course, any Packers fans who wish to articulate the case for the Bears as their primary rivals are certainly free to make their case. But you know, I cannot think of a single time that there was ever a big Monday Night Football party thrown just because the Packers were playing the Bears nor do I ever recall Packers fans wearing their jerseys to work because the Pack was playing Chicago that upcoming weekend.