The NFL's Greatest Rivalry Is BackPosted:Jan 18th, 2011 3:05 pm
How perfectly fitting that Brett Favre officially retired (again) on the first day of NFC title week between the Pack and Bears. If we needed a more emphatic exclamation point on the end of this silly tryst we were having with the Vikings, we've got it.
Now that Favre has left the land of lutefisk forever, the Vikings will become what they've been for the past 40 years or so: our second biggest rival. The fact that the Packers and Bears are meeting for a right to go the Super Bowl serves notice that the game's oldest rivalry is back.
And it's not going anywhere. Yes, the Bears are old defensively and have holes to fill to stay competitive over the next handful of years. They stayed injury-free this year: reason #1 why they're still alive. But with Jay Cutler and Mike Martz continuing to get on the same page, their offense is bound to improve.
Barring injury, the Rodgers-Cutler rivalry should last a while. This will be meeting number five in this burgeoning duel and it officially kicks off on Sunday. Which ever QB leads his team to a Super Bowl berth will have a major leg up and his fans will have bragging rights for at least a year.
Rivalries like this are the reason we love the NFL more than any other. Our grandparents and parents lived and died with this rivalry. Packers-Bears goes back to the infancy of the game and represents the classic big city vs. small town dynamic.
For the fan bases, there is nothing better than this. But to many of the players? Not so much. Here's Greg Jennings on the rivalry, a guy who grew up in Michigan, on Monday: "I didn't become aware of it until I got here...I started to understand how in depth the rivalry is to not only the players, the organization, but to the fans."
It feels like a great college rivalry. The setting in Green Bay may factor into that. AJ Hawk compares it to Ohio State-Michigan. "When I first got here, I noticed the feeling throughout the week each time we played the Bears was really how it was when were were playing Michigan."
These two NFL originals first faced off in 1921. Here were are 90 years later and they're meeting for the NFC Championship. It's how it should be between two bitter rivals. Sorry for straying a bit these last few years, Bears fans. The combination of your team's ineptitude and Favre's return will do that.
They're playing Sunday for the George Halas Trophy. Win that, and you get a shot at the Lombardi. The greatest prizes are named after our teams' two greatest coaches.
The Packers-Bears rivalry is back in full force. And it's not going anywhere for a long, long time.