Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Do I owe my “A” to the Super Bowl?

I have to make a confession – one that I’m sure will shock the standards of many people who think they know what a true Chicagoan is.

Are we really on 'L' already?
Back 30 years ago Tuesday when the Chicago Bears reached the pinnacle of winning a Super Bowl – beating the New England Patriots 46-10, I didn’t actually watch the game on television.

I DIDN’T PERCH myself in front of a television set that day to see the moment that many people (except for young punk kids who are too young to know better) think of as a glory day for all of Chicago.

Not that I wasn’t aware of the game, or the hype, or the fact that Chicago got extra stupid in the way it worshipped the gridiron back in that autumn of 1985 that led into the Super Bowl XX that came early in 1986.

And yes, all football championships need to have roman numerals attached as though they are battles of the gladiators of old – just as comedian George Carlin once told us that all football matches are played in places with names like Soldier Field or War Memorial Coliseum.

I actually have a vivid memory of that day – which was part of the time in which I was out of Chicago and off at college; Bloomington, Ill., to be exact.

BECAUSE IT WAS an example of me at one of my laziest moments.

I was taking a course that January in which the totality of my grade was a lengthy paper that I had to write detailing what it was I had learned.

Do you still own a turntable to play this on?
There was nothing else to take into account. The paper was it. A bad paper would mean a poor grade. And yes, I had barely started on it that Sunday.

Which is why that particular afternoon, I was holed up in my room banging away at a typewriter producing what turned out to be something close to 40 pages of copy.

FORTUNATELY FOR ME, I actually had a good comprehension of the subject matter. I actually had been paying attention and had learned some things.

So while it was a lengthy paper and quite detailed, it was actually rather easy to write. It flowed well, and by about 6 p.m., I was done.

A Chicago history 'moment'
Of course, back then the Super Bowl was still played in January and wasn’t meant to be a prime time spectacle. The game was played in the afternoon. At the same time that was prime work time for me to deal with this paper!

For me, that meant tuning in my stereo to the AM radio dial. For because it was the Chicago Bears, WGN radio had managed to get the rights to carry a live broadcast of the NFL’s prize program.

MEANING I WAS the guy who spent the afternoon grinding out a college paper while also trying to keep track of how the Bears were doing. Yes, I remember the Patriots scoring first and feeling a moment of “How typical” – as in a Chicago sports team getting all worked up before blowing it in the end.

I say typical because back then, it had been 22 years since the Bears had last won a championship, 24 years since the Blackhawks did so, 26 years since the White Sox had an American League title and 40 years since the Cubs did so in the National League.

While in this pre-Jordan era, the Chicago Bulls had NEVER won anything of note.

But as the Bears began piling on the points and racking up a huge lead (it was 46-3 at one point before New England came up with a token touchdown to save face), perhaps I got a jolt as well. I do remember how well that copy flowed – in a way I have rarely, if ever, felt since.

I REMEMBER MY roommate came back home to Chicago because he wanted to watch the game locally, and I remember the amount of grief he gave me afterward for not perching in front of a television.

Is there a ring for passing a class?
That is, until he found the artistic guys (as in drama majors) who lived down the hall who hadn’t even been aware there was a game that day.

I always wondered to what degree that game being on the radio provided motivation to my writing that day. Because I still remember the grade I received for that cranked-out-in-four-hours college paper I wrote at nearly the last possible minute.

It was an “A.”


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