Bears vs. Packers: Coming to a bar near you

By Tyler Vincent

Bears vs. Packers. Cheese Heads vs. Super Fans. The oldest rivalry in the National Football League.

While still unmatched in intensity, the traditional rivalry has assumed an almost stagnant state in recent years because of the Bears’ lack of success on the football field. This year, however, with the Bears atop the NFC Central with a 6-1 record and the Packers at a close second with a 5-2 record, Sunday’s edition of Bears-Packers will no doubt burn white-hot with excitement from both fan bases, who notoriously have had no love for each other.

“This is a better than average game,” said Robert Goering, co-owner of Andy’s Lounge, 317 E. Lincoln Hwy. “It’s probably one of the premiere match-ups of the year.”

Goering and other area bar owners already are preparing for Sunday’s game, which is expected to pack area bars with loyal fans sporting the orange and blue and the green and yellow.

“We’ve already gotten a section of 15 reserved,” said Jeff Dobie, co-owner of Fatty’s Sports Bar and Grill, 1312 W. Lincoln Highway. “They called earlier this week. Split [between Bears fans and Packers fans].”

The owners and managers all anticipate full houses with allegiances split between the Packers and the Bears.

“I would say it’s 50-50, or 60-40,” Goering said regarding the percentages of Packer fans and Bear fans. “You’ve got a lot of Packers fans coming out. I’ve seen people who are Bears fans every other week and then put on Packers uniforms for the game just to burn the guys they’re with. You’ll definitely see allegiances. This is almost like a mini-Super Bowl. Especially now since you have a genuine Midwestern rivalry.”

“In previous years Bear fans have been like, ‘Well, it would be nice if we got a win,’” Dobie said. “Packer fans were more involved in the games.”

Dobie added that this year the number of Bear supporters assembled at Fatty’s has grown.

“Last week by the second half, we were completely full,” he said.

In preparation for the big game, various bars are setting up specials to accommodate the expected large crowds.

“What we’re doing is if the Bears win, we’re doing kind of a ‘super fan’ thing and giving out free sausage pizza,” said Chris Humphrey, the general manager of Molly’s Eatery and Drinkery, 1022 W. Lincoln Hwy. “If the Packers win, we are giving out free cheese nuggets.”

Fatty’s will be preparing venison stew and all you can eat chili, in addition to raffling off a Brett Farve and a Brian Urlacher jersey. Goering said that Andy’s would have all 16 TVs in the bar tuned to the game in addition to offering free hot dogs to the crowd at the bar, something usually reserved for Monday Night Football.

“There hasn’t been a game this important in 10 years,” Dobie said. ” I’m a die-hard Bears fan. It’s nice to finally have something to get excited about.”