Brian Urlacher was critical of Bears fans booing the team during a home loss to the Packers on Sunday. SB Nation Chicago's Ricky O'Donnell looks at why this is a lose-lose proposition for all involved.
Doug Buffone and Ed O'Bradovich have been the voices of behind every Chicago Bears postmortem examination on the radio as long as I can remember, maybe for as long as I've been alive, possibly for much longer than that. If you are a Bears fan born and raised and brainwashed in Chicago, the voices of Buffone and O'Bradovich sound inherently familiar. Their voices sound like football.
Doug and OB, as they are known, host 670 The Score's Bears post-game show and have for some time. Each played for the Bears many moons ago and have become embedded in the fabric of what the Bears mean to Chicago. Buffone, 68, played 15 seasons as a linebacker in Chicago. When he retired in 1980, he did it as the Bears' all-time leader in games played. O'Bradovich is 72 and has spent an entire lifetime immersed in local football: he starred at Proviso East, then Illinois, then for the Bears. He had an interception in the 1963 NFL Championship and played himself in "Brian's Song". These are two men uniquely suited to perform an important and occasionally terrifying job: to talk Chicago off the ledge after every disheartening Bears loss.
Doug and OB have the respect of even this city's biggest meatballs, the men who call into The Score every week with loads of passion about the Bears and something less than a fundamental understanding of how football, or life, usually works. How they've survived so long doing the same thing every year is beyond me; it's often hard enough to listen to a single Score caller, yet alone speak to some of these people through multiple decades.
When Brian Urlacher put on his best white Nike hoodie and made controversial remarks about Bears fans in his weekly appearance on FOX's televised post-game show, it was Doug and OB who immediately came to mind. Urlacher, injured and clearly frustrated as the Bears have lost five of their last six games, vented to the show's host Lou Canellis about how the Bears are treated at Soldier Field.
"Our crowd was pretty good today for the most part, they were loud for a minute there, the boos were really loud, which is always nice,'' Urlacher said sarcastically. "The only team in our division that gets booed at home is us. It's unbelievable to me.''
"Two of the people I don't care about: fans or media,'' Urlacher told WFLD-Ch. 32 while defending coach Lovie Smith after Sunday's loss. "They can say what they want to about our head coach, about our players. …It does bother me. They don't know what they're talking about, obviously.''
Cue the firestorm: Deadspin covered it, David Haugh wrote a column at the Tribune deriding Urlacher's comments and local sports radio blew up. Urlacher's criticism is now officially 'a thing', something worthy of addressing if only due to the carnage left in its wake. Let's just get one thing straight: everyone is wrong.
Why Urlacher is wrong
This is the classic battle not worth fighting for. Urlacher's comments aren't difficult to defend (we'll get there), but they never needed to be said in the first place. What is Urlacher accomplishing, even hoping to accomplish? That the same less-than-reasonable people booing the Bears for heading into halftime down seven points will hear his words and change their behavior moving forward? Please.
Urlacher has been the face of this franchise ever since he was drafted in 2000. Bears fans love him and Urlacher has rewarded the city with a Hall of Fame career. Don't blow this out of proportion: no one will boycott his Canton induction speech or take off their barbeque-strained No. 54 jersey because of these comments. This will blow over, probably before the Cardinals game. But the point remains: there was no reason for Urlacher to criticize his own fans, even if he might have a point.
Why the fans are wrong
To the best of my knowledge, the one time the boos really poured down was at the end of the half. Jay Cutler had just thrown an interception which led to a Packers touchdown, putting Green Bay in position to head into halftime up 14-7. The Bears got the ball back at the 20-yard line with :28 seconds left. Cutler threw a short pass to Forte and then the Bears let the clock run out. BOOOOOOOOOO.
Well, why the hell was Soldier Field booing? Did Bears fans really think this punchless offense was going to travel 50 or 60 yards in :28 seconds? Did they not just witness what happened the possession before, when Cutler's interception blew the chance of a tie game going into halftime? Throwing the ball in that situation is something only a 14-year old playing Madden would do. The Bears unquestionably did the right thing by running out the clock; there is no other argument.
Listen: Chicago has booed plenty of athletes. Dewayne Wise was booed incessantly at U.S. Cellular Field in 2009, as if it was his fault someone decided to make him a leadoff hitter in the major leagues. Cubs fans have booed plenty of their own players, from Carlos Marmol to Milton Bradley to Alfonso Soriano. It's kind of a pathetic thing to do. For one, you're saying the word "boo". If you think about it for even two seconds, it probably isn't worth it. If an athlete isn't giving it 100 percent, sure, maybe it's OK. But the vast majority of the time this behavior comes from the same drunken meathead fans who listen to Doug and OB on the radio and call in to say insane things.
Not all fans are created equal. Chicago has many good fans and many bad fans, and you only need to listen to The Score or ESPN 1000 during mornings or rush hour to have this fact hammered home. After the Bears lost to the Seahawks in Week 13, someone called into The Score and said the Bears should trade for Tim Tebow. On Sunday, someone called Doug and OB to say Jay Cutler is nothing but a backup quarterback. And Urlacher is the one we're wagging our finger at?
Well, yes, he should be above it all and is compensated handsomely to act like a professional. But listen to the men Buffone and O'Bradovich have to deal with every week and tell me who the real enemy is. Read Bill Savage on his experience at the Bears-Packers game and ask yourself the same question. Urlacher is frustrated over a horde of drunk idiots booing his team for no reason other than to stoke their own self-importance? Yeah, I'd be upset, too.