December 12, 1965 was my 6th birthday. The next day was my grandfather's wake. My dad's dad. Didn't really know the guy very well, but he was the first living human being that I knew, that had stopped living. All day on the 13th I watched people I didn't know pay their respects, and then go join the party downstairs.
Maybe party isn't the exact right word, but it's closer to being a party than it is to not being a party. Oh sure there are a few who don't get the whole Irish Wake thing, but that's really not my problem. There's never any disrespect to the deceased, and as a matter of fact it's because the deceased became deceased, after a lifetime of not being deceased, that everyone is gathered. And, since we are all gathered, we face the option of either lamenting a world without old deady over there, or getting loaded and telling funny stories about O'Stiffman, as well as discussing current events.
But again, the key elements that every Irish wake shares: alcohol. laughing, gossiping, and bullshitting about politics.
In that order.
They don't call the obits the "Irish sports page" for nothing.
And, at my grandfather's wake, the big topic of discussion was yesterday, December 12, 1965.
My 6th birthday.
All anyone was talking about was the number 6.
Only they weren't discussing how fucking cool it was that little Smutty was 6 years old.
They were talking about how cool it was that Bears rookie Gale Sayers had run for 6 touchdowns in the mud against the San Francisco 49ers. To the vast majority of people in the world, roughly 100%, Sayers running wild against the 49ers was the cool thing about December 12th. Well, that and Frank Sinatra's birthday, which oddly is still not a national holiday.
But on that day, after talking about my grandfather, it was all about Sayers. Not Smutty or Frank.
1- Sayers 80 yards with a screen. a run that featured two early moves the defy description. Knee-bucklers. Jock droppers. What Bill Cosby once called Sayers "splitting like an amoeba and going around both sides of a tackler."
2- Sayers 30 yard run that showed how to "get around the corner."
3- 10 yard dash to the corner and wait for the block thing.
4- 50 yards, burst through the line, and gone. The reason he was called the Kansas Comet. A blur. And, showing that he was a mudder in the last 30 yards. Everyone else slippin' and sloppin', he's accelerating.
5- A one yard over the top dive where he landed on his head. Sayers was Payton before Payton was Payton.
6- 85 yard punt return that featured two more what-in-theee-fuck-did-I-just-see? moves at mid-field.
Gale Sayers was absolutely amazing.
6 TDS on my 6th birthday. Just the sort of thing that yanks a 6 year old kid by the throat and forces, that's what I said, forces him to become a fan of the fucking team.
Between 1965 and 1985 , Chicago Bears fans lived through some really miserable seasons, but there was always some reason to watch. Early on, late 60s, it was Sayers and Butkus. After Dr. Fox had his way with Gale's knees, it was down to Butkus.
By the early 70s, the Bears were just bad, and that is not a good thing to be when the owner of your team essentially invented the NFL.
Bobby Douglass. Abe Gibron.
Papa Bear had some smarts though. He hired Jim Finks. And then they drafted Walter. And then they built an offensive line that was solid. And finally, they built a defense that scared the shit out of people.
The 1985 Chicago Bears.
Kinda like.... Disco Demolition coming to your town this week! They just beat the hell out of everybody. Except the Dolphins on Monday Night Football. Fucking Gary Fencik. What? you didn't know he was going to cut inside? The entire world knew he was ...sorry, where was I?
Oh yeah, so we had this one great team, and it was really fun and shit, and then pffffft.
20 more years of mediocre, bad, kind OK, mediocre, bad again, pretty decent, hey look Rex Grossman is starting against Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl!, back to mediocre, kinda bad, pretty decent, and now bad again.
Now, I'm not exactly sure when the NFL started this "bye week" shit, seems like it's been around for a while but I'm too lazy to Google it.
Whenever it was, up until today, I hated the bye week.
Not this year.
This year I love the bye week.
Let's make next week bye week too.
I started watching this team in 1965 and, I am seriously considering calling it quits.
I mean it this time!
Being a Chicago Bears fan sucks.