January 31, 2010
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    The Super Bowl.   The golden calf of American sports.


   The big game is next week, and for our 2010 Super Bowl buffet the NFL offers up the Saints and the Colts.   Drew Brees versus Peyton Manning.   Football fans from Maine to California are all a-dither.

      I say big deal.   

     Oh, don’t get me wrong.   I love football.   And I dig the Super Bowl as much as anybody.   It’s great theater.   We’re being sold a force-fed diet of the two best teams (‘not sure if the Saints are in the top two), and the two best quarterbacks (well, let’s just say Manning is definitely #1 and Brees is in the top five), and even though I’m convinced that it won’t be close and that the Colts will win handily, either way I suspect it will be a pretty darn good game.  


The 'Fridge' Scores Again. Who brought the burgers?


      But personally, I think something is missing.  

      Hard to say what.   It’s not that the Saints and the Colts aren’t exciting teams with high-powered offenses.   They are.   And obviously it would be a great story if the underdog, long-suffering Saints were to win.   But my pulse isn’t racing.   My heartbeat is still under 80 (I hope).   So I got to thinking….maybe what’s lacking is the overall “star quality” of the teams themselves….that’s it!   That’s what it is.   Neither one of these fine squads inspires awe.   Neither one of them passes the “timelessness” test.   Face it—historically speaking, neither of these teams is anything special.   The Saints were outgained by over 200 yards in the NFC championship game, and the main reason they won was because—though no one wants to admit it—they lucked out.   And as for the Colts, how can you get behind a team that went out of its way to lose the final two games of its previously perfect season?   Teams that are destined to go undefeated but then “rest” their best players on the very verge, dare I say the precise precipice of history, well, they are surely not the stuff that dreams are made of….  

      “Where are the great and legendary teams of yesteryear?” the Sports Philosopher soon found himself asking himself.

      On that note, I hereby offer you a trip down memory lane.   In honor of Super Bowl Week, I have elected to educate you or re-acquaint you (whichever the case may be) with not only one of the greatest Super Bowl teams of all time but perhaps the most brash, arrogant, confident, overwhelming, and refreshingly colorful football team of the modern era; the 1985 Chicago Bears.

      The ’85 Bears.   Now that was a football team worthy of the Super Bowl stage.   They didn’t just arrive in New Orleans for Super Bowl XX as much as they invaded it, like a Nazi panzer division rolling across France.   Taverns and bars braced for destruction, parents locked their daughters in the cellar.   These Bears were loaded for bear.   Their reputation most definitely preceded them.   And not just the reps and resumes of their key players, like future Hall-of-Famers Dan “Danimal” Hampton, Mike “Samurai” Singletary, and Walter “they call me Sweetness” Payton, not to mention their 320-pound rookie man-child, defensive tackle William “the refrigerator” Perry, who gobbled burgers like tic-tacs and audaciously lined up in the backfield in goal-line situations, a defensive player suddenly having morphed into both blocker and runner, snorting fire and eyeing linebackers with malice in his soul and murder in his heart.   What made the Bears special was their overall swagger as a team.   Here’s all you need to know: the Bears made a video with a couple months still to go in the season, pretty much guaranteeing a championship.   They called it the “Super Bowl Shuffle”.   They danced around like huge elves in thigh pads and spewed self-aggrandizing lyrics that must have made their mothers cringe.   The thing sold thousands of copies (I still have mine).   Again, they made this wacky Super Bowl celebration video not after they won it all but before they won anything!   They made it during the season!   Can you even imagine a team nowadays having the danglers to do something like that???

      But they backed it up.   The Bears lost only one game all year, and that was on the road in a game where their 1st-string quarterback couldn’t start and only played a few snaps.   In the playoffs they blew away two hapless foes without allowing a single point in eight quarters of merciless, sobering gridiron destruction. 

      Then came the Super Bowl.

      Every football game has a favorite and an underdog.   But for some teams, even in the Super Bowl, victory is a foregone conclusion.   That was the Bears.   I take you back, now, to that glorious January day in New Orleans in 1986, January 26th of that year to be exact, the day my beloved Chicago Bears clawed and mauled and thoroughly emasculated the 1985 version of the New England Patriots, 46 to 10.   The game wasn’t that close.   Heck, if that gentle, mild mannered, and most merciful of coaches, Mike Ditka, had left in his 1st-stringers in for the 4th quarter and kept his foot on the gas, the score would have been something like 72 to 3.   Give or take.   

      How can two teams arrive at a championship game and be so utterly disparate in talent? I hear you asking.   Well, it just works out that way sometimes.   Niners 55, Broncos 10.   Cowboys 52, Bills 17.   Buccaneers 48, Raiders 21.   These are all actual past Super Bowl scores.   It happens.

      But with all due respect to the lovable losers mentioned in the above paragraph, the ’85 Patriots fashioned arguably the worst performance ever in a Super Bowl.

      Blame the Bears.   The NFL had simply never seen a defense like theirs.   If the normally sure-handed Payton hadn’t fumbled on his very first carry, leading to a quick Pats field goal, the Bears would have surely pitched a shutout.   New England rushed for only seven yards the whole game (still by far a Super Bowl record low for running the football), and the Patriots also set a 1st-half record for football ineptitude by racking up negative 19 yards of total offense.

      Let me repeat that.   The AFC Champion Patriots “gained” negative 19 yards of offense in the 1st half!   That’s MINUS 19, as in going backwards!   Say it out loud a couple times.   Needless to say, your philosopher and correspondent considers this to be the greatest single record in pro football history.   The Patriots would have been better off if quarterback Tony Eason had simply fallen down on every play the moment he received the center-snap.

      Which, now that I think about it, is almost exactly what he did.   Eason—for New England fans the logical Lucifer to current quarterback Tom Brady’s role of modern-day Messiah—was sacked three times and fumbled once.   He completed zero passes in six attempts.   That’s zero as in zip, zilch, nada, goose egg, nil, none.   It wasn’t totally his fault, of course.   His offensive line was truly offensive, proving that a modern-day Minuteman is no match for an angry uniformed bear.   Nevertheless, Eason’s “performance” shall doubtless go down in NFL lore as, if not the worst-ever performance by a quarterback, certainly the most amusing, sad, and utterly pathetic, all at the same time.

      He was humanely replaced by 87-year-old Steve Grogan in the 2nd quarter.

      I can still see the look on Eason’s face as he cowered on the sidelines after he was yanked; sullen, stunned, shaking.   Sort of like the face of this poor scared kid I remember from way back in my high school days, right after he got trampled in a little race riot we had over at John Muir High one fine Spring afternoon in the early 70s, right after we dragged him out of harm’s way.   He transferred to another high school the next day.   The kid looked just like Eason looked.   I remember….he looked like he’d just gotten a glimpse of Hades itself.

      They never won another Super Bowl, but for one glorious day in 1986 the Chicago Bears were Hades itself.

      That’s the kind of team we’re missing in recent Super Bowls.   And I miss that.


      P.S. — By the way, even though I think the Saints’ defense isn’t very good and even though I think Peyton Manning will carve up that defense like a Christmas goose, don’t misunderstand my preference.   I’ll be rooting hard for the Saints.   I like underdogs, and I certainly can not back the Colts.   Teams that lose intentionally with greatness in their grasp shall not be lionized in this column.   So shall it be written.   So shall it be done.

meet The Sports Philosopher

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, NFL junkie, lifelong Chicago Bears loyalist, and sports nut, in no particular order.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written four novels and over 20 short-stories.    Samples of his fiction work can be discovered within the links below :







3 Responses to “SUPER BOWL WEEK STARTS NOW: WHAT EXACTLY DOES “MINUS 19 YARDS GAINED” MEAN??? by the Sports Philosopher”

  1. In the 1999 Smudgepot Bowl the Bonita Bearcats defense held the Saints to negative nine yards. I was in the fifth grade as that Bearcat team put our lovely city on its back and united it when they went 14-0 that perfect season.

  2. Great Column! Could I be prejudiced about the Bears???

    Hope all is well with you and yours………….


  3. dear Aaron,

    thanks for commenting on my column….wish Bonita could have played the Bears, to see who was best :>)

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