Back when us three bloggers were at T.U.P., Ricky and Bobby would do something called "The Ballad of Ricky-Bobby." It was basically a souped-up email exchange between bros talking sports. Bobby would throw up some pics, mess around in MS Paint, and the next thing you knew, The Ballad turned into one of T.U.P.'s best features. Plus, the title was so obviously ripped off from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, it immediately was hysterical without further review. It also made me super jealous that I wasn't allowed in on it.
Thus, I decided to start it up again with a twist -- ME! It's a bit abridged compared to the original, but still rocking very hard. Each week, one of us three will ask the other two some questions about the sports world around us. The other two will answer the best they can. It will be super grand. Anywho, without further ado:
Bobby Loesch (@bobbystompy):
The Bears are going to London. Do you care?
I do not care. As someone who also follows the Pats, I saw this whole thing happen in 2009, and it was pretty much 'meh'. I'm happy the NFL is trying to get something going overseas, and it'd be cool if it leads to the global expansion that our lives will unfortunatley predate, but other than big picture, it mostly just worries me. You know, travel and preparation and burnout and such. I assume the Bears have a bye the following week. /checks. Yeah, they do. So I don't know, maybe it's not a huge deal, but I just look at the Bears organization, coaching staff and team as this super delicate, dysfunctional thing. International travel worries me as something that might upset the balance. Example: will Cutler stab Martz on the plane? I don't know. Do you?
Z.W. Martin (@ZWMartin):
As you say, Bobby. Eh? Meh? Peh. I know I am supposed to be, like, SUPER PUMPED, but, I dunno. It's hard to get totally revved up for an event occurring almost 4,000 miles away. Of course, this is coming from a guy who is going all fanboy over the Notre Dame/Navy game in Dublin next year. Then again, I'm going to that game, so it is like "ZOMG" and stuff. It's a real and tangible event for me. The Bears in London is just a game that's not being played in Chicago. Sweet.
Plus, Tampa Bay? I know the NFL couldn't matchup real rivals because that would cost too much in potential revenue for the home team and fans may actual riot, but, as good as they seem to be, Tampa Bay? I still think of the Bucs in the post-Gruden-black-hole-bad sort of way. But that's my right as a Phish-casual NFL fan.
You're obviously right about the international consequences of these games, but I also think there is some kind of Winter Classic "Oh boy! How cool! A soccer field!" attempt going on here by the NFL. But a grassy pitch is a grassy pitch. It's just not Kane and Sharp and Toews at Wrigley Field. It's more like Guster at the Shedd Aquarium. Neat! It is hard to compare this event to something like the NHL's Winter Classic, though. The entire Wrigley experience is really quite unique. English people watching a sport they don't really understand? Not so much.
Saying that, my friend and real journalist, Courtney Subramanian, is in London for a fellowship with Time through Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism (I know, right?) and is attending the game (she said she will write about it for SBN Chicago), so I am pumped for her. I feel if I was in London, I would totally be psyched. Probably.
As for the whole "super delicate, dysfunctional" Bears. That only really becomes a concern if they lose. An international flight with a mopey Jay, an angry Urlacher and a drunk Martz; I could see things getting hairy. Or at least extremely uncomfortable. I hope they don't lose.
Hey, Ricky. Chris Harris wants to be traded. Do we care?
Ricky O'Donnell (@TUP_Ricky):
Yeah, I think we're all on the same page here: participating in this game is mostly a case of taking one for the team, the team being the league. Bears fans will meet the London trip with shrugged shoulders, Tampa fans would be right to bitch about losing a home game. The bye week that follows is the only saving grace. The real winner here is the NFL. It gets to 'expand the brand' and preach its ideals to an audience who hasn't been hit over the head yet with the same message they blast us with every weekend. So far as I'm concerned, the only difference will be sweet shots of Big Ben or Parliament instead of, uh, Tropicana Field? So far as aesthetically pleasing backdrops go, you can do worse than London Town. That's something, no?
Chris Harris: Well, Z.W., that's a whole other beast. I'll probably address it in LEFTOVERS sometime this week, but my quick take is that it's equal parts curious and unfortunate. He was a leader last year (yes, I used the L-word) and was voted All-Pro. Safety has been a real problem spot for the Bears since Mike Brown rode off (un)triumphantly into the sunset, and Harris at least looked like he'd provide stability for a couple years after the Bears acquired him from Carolina before last season. That said, as I type this, I don't expect him to get traded. Much like Lance Briggs, maybe something will happen after the season. I just doubt the Bears will be shipping off Harris for (presumably) very little compensation with no proven replacements and only a small sample size of poor play this season.