The most storied rivalry in the NFL has lost its sizzle.
I’m not discounting the importance of the Packers inter-division match-up against the Bears Sunday afternoon, but the bitterness and vitriol that used to exist around the rivalry no longer does.
Growing up, “Bears week” used to be just that…a weeks’ worth of build-up with jabs being thrown from locker room to locker room. It didn’t matter which team was the prohibitive favorite, the term “throw the records out the window” applied.
Today, jabs are not being thrown from locker room to locker room…or from ZOOM call to ZOOM call. The rivalry is more about a healthy respect lacking bulletin board headlines. Heck, the bulletin boards don’t even exist.
Another contributing factor: The Packers dominance. With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Packers are 21-5 against the Bears.
During the coaching era of the Mikes – Holmgren, Sherman and McCarthy – it was common for a Packers legend to speak to the team about the significance of the rivalry. Video coordinators spent hours piecing together a sizzle reel of highlights showcasing the hardest of hits and dirtiest of plays.
Today, “Bears week” has an entirely different meaning in Green Bay. The trickle-down message from Matt LaFleur is an opportunity to beat a team from the NFC North, and the importance of winning within the division.
A win over the Bears will be satisfying for Packers fans…especially those who live in split households. For you, the rivalry remains as intense as ever.
For the Packers, my belief is that it’s an important game, but no more important than one against the Lions or Vikings.