Musick: Looking back at the Bears’ year ahead
CHICAGO – It’s Feb. 2, 2014. And it’s an incredible day to be a Bears fan.
Am I right or am I right?
On this frigid day in what used to be the future, the Bears marched to New Jersey, marched up and
down the field, and marched into the history books as Super Bowl champions.
Ditka, meet Trestman. Trestman, meet Ditka.
Nobody could have predicted this all the way back in July.
Remember July? It was hot then. Too hot.
The Bears’ tailspin of 2012 was fresh in our minds. Too fresh.
As we looked toward the 2013 season, we were skeptical. Too skeptical.
But we had good reasons to guard our optimism when Trestman’s troops arrived in Bourbonnais way back when. For better or worse, we had grown familiar with Lovie Smith’s slow Texas drawl and the way he ran the Bears.
We had no idea what to expect from this first-year coach from Canada.
OK, so it turned out that Trestman wasn’t actually from Canada. He just had lived and worked there for five years, where he won something called a Grey Cup with something called the Alouettes.
At least, that’s what the Internet told us.
Once the Bears’ season kicked off, we didn’t need a search engine to inform us that this coach was capable and that this team was talented. Sure, there were a few bumps along the way, but the Bears stole the division title from the Green Bay Packers (remember them?) and toppled NFC somebodies such as San Francisco and Seattle on their way to the biggest sporting event on Earth.
Let somebody else enjoy an autumn excursion to Paris. We had February in East Rutherford.
And with apologies to the AFC champion Jacksonville Jaguars – you guys had an unbelievable season– the Bears went out and proved that they were the greatest football team on God’s green FieldTurf.
Remember when we doubted Jay Cutler?
We worried that he was too moody, too inconsistent, too late at age 30 to become an elite starter. When training camp opened – gosh, that seems so long ago now – we wondered whether a guy with 136 career touchdowns and 100 career interceptions would be able to win a title.
Now, the only question is how many tens of millions it will cost the Bears to keep Cutler.
Remember when we fretted about an aging defense?
Brian Urlacher already had limped into retirement, and we wondered about other defensive elders such as Julius Peppers (33), Lance Briggs (32) and Charles Tillman (32). And Urlacher’s replacement, 31-year-old D.J. Williams, wasn’t exactly a royal baby, either.
Now, the only question is whether they have another year in the tank to pursue back-to-back titles.
Remember when we forecast the demise of Devin Hester?
The Bears’ 30-year-old kick returner arrived to Olivet Nazarene University with a flat-screen TV, a video-game console and plenty of extra baggage. As in a special teams scoring drought going on 20 months. As in empty threats of retirement after Smith was fired.
Now – step aside, Deion Sanders – Hester is the greatest returner of all time.
Remember when watching the Super Bowl made us jealous?
When Ray Lewis danced, we glared. When David Tyree caught Eli Manning’s pass against his helmet, we wondered whether anybody on the Bears could have made that play. When Aaron Rodgers smiled and screamed, “I’m going to Disney World!” we hoped he would stay there forever.
Now, the Super Bowl makes us happy.
What a wild ride since the first few days in Bourbonnais.
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @tcmusick.