When your team doesn’t make it to the Super Bowl, you ultimately still have to take a side. It’s the biggest sports event of the year, why would you just watch it emotionless or even not watch it at all? As football fans we wait all year for the football season to start and whether or not your team made it to the big show or not, you put in a season’s worth of debates, views and emotion – you have to find a place and ultimately pick a side in the Super Bowl.
For Bears fans, the expectations were low entering this season. It’s a rebuild. You accept the team for what they are, hope they put up a fight week to week and pull off an upset or two. We knew as Bears fans we wouldn’t be gearing up for a Super Bowl in February, but here are five reasons why Bears fans everywhere should be excited for and rooting for the Carolina Panthers to destroy the Denver Broncos on February 7th 2016 . . .
1. Ron Rivera – This one is the most obvious. Rivera was part of the one Super Bowl winning team the Bears ever had. He one that Super Bowl under the great Mike Ditka, who at the time is one of two players to have coached and played for a Super Bowl winning team (the other being Tony Dungy). Rivera can join that group as only the third to accomplish that feat with a win against Denver. During the season, Rivera compared this team to his ’85 Bears team and saw the similarities through and through in terms of character and playing style. He even mentioned how going undefeated meant something to him because the Bears missed that opportunity in their Super Bowl year. Although this Panthers team didn’t go undefeated, they do stand a chance to win the biggest game of the year.
2 . Charles “Peanut” Tillman - Very few Bears players in recent years have been more appreciated and adored than Tillman. In his prime he was one of the NFL’s toughest and best cornerbacks, he terrorized defenses with his “Peanut Punch” tactic in forcing fumbles, his charity work is recognized year to year and he is a true leader on and off the field. Due to an ACL injury in week 17, Tillman will not be playing in the Super Bowl, but he was definitely a reason why they’ve gotten to this point. Bears fans everywhere should rejoice and be in the corner of Tillman to be on a Super Bowl winning team – even if it isn’t for the Bears.
3. Greg Olsen – The Chicago Bears drafted Olsen in the first round of the 2007 draft (31st pick). When Mike Martz became the offensive coordinator for the Bears, he deemed that Olsen would not fit into the offensive scheme. Fans of the Bears argued that when you have a talent like Olsen, you make sure you fit your system around his talent. In an article for 247 Sports, Brian Jones writes about this and has an interesting quote from Olsen: “There’s no worse feeling then not being able to play up to your potential.” Olsen, even after his departure with the Bears has appeared a class act and always recognizes that the Bears ultimately gave him his first shot in the league. Much like Peanut Tillman, Olsen is one of the NFL’s “good guys” and it’s hard to root against him. He has excelled in Carolina and become a Pro Bowl player working with his quarterback Cam Newton. He’ll definitely be a key in the Panthers winning the Championship come Super Bowl Sunday.
4. Jared Allen - Allen’s time with the Bears was short. He signed with the Bears in 2014 after being a pain the Bears side for years as a division rival with Minnesota. Allen signed on because he fell for the “okey doke” just like Bears loyalist did. He felt that in 2014, he was signing with a team headed in the right direction for a Super Bowl run. . . Then the roof caved in on what was one of the most embarrassing seasons in Chicago Bears history. Early this season, under new head coach John Fox, the Bears asked Allen to move to outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme and Allen tried his best to fit in, but it just wasn’t working. The Bears did Allen a solid and traded him to Carolina for a conditional sixth round pick. Nobody was sure how his foot injury would hold up going into the Super Bowl, but in recent reports he has been a full participant in practices and will surely be seeing snaps as an edge rusher. His time was short, but he believed in the Bears and he was with us to help bring himself and Chicago a championship.
5. Peyton Manning - Obviously, never was a Chicago Bear BUT — it was his Indianapolis Colts team that beat us in Super Bowl XLI. If Manning wins this Super Bowl against Carolina, he becomes the only quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl for two different teams. That means the Bears will be tied to this for eternity. The MVP of that game was Manning and for all things considered when looking at his stats (25-38, 247, 1td 1int) it wasn’t as if he killed the Bears defense. The Bears had a 100 yard effort by running back Thomas Jones, and an opening kick off by Devin Hester – but we all know that ultimately that game was decided by arguably the worst quarterback to ever start in a Super Bowl – our man, Rex Grossman. Peyton already has a Hall of Fame career, and when his playing days are done, he’ll be on TV for the rest of our lives – he ultimately already won at the game of life – no need for us to cheer on the guy, who beat us when we last had a chance to win it all. . . .
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