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Bears’ fan blue over picking team in Super Bowl

Sunday’s Super Bowl will be my favorite in the 41 years of the National Football League’s history. The only problem will be deciding who to cheer for.
See, I was a Chicago Bears fan back when the Hoosier state didn’t have a professional football team. And by the time the Colts snuck out of Baltimore, Md., late one night in March of 1984 and moved to Indianapolis, I was living here in Harrison County, where the Cincinnati Bengals was considered the home team and received the local TV coverage.
I can’t name a single Bengal, from the present team or any past one, but I do know a lot of Bears.
Short version of how my love of the Bears developed, beginning with the 1976 season: I grew up in Central Indiana, attended Purdue University and met a man there who was from the Windy City. Before that, I only knew about two former players, Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, who gained notoriety off the field because of the book and movie ‘Brian’s Song.’
It’s hard to believe it’s been 21 years since Jim McMahon and his cohorts danced their way into the record books and won Super Bowl XX.
What football fans could forget that intense stare of Mike Singletary at the line of scrimmage, the deftness of the late Walter Payton or how William Perry gave new meaning to The Refrigerator.
My son, Randy, started out as a Bears fan. Posters of the better known players ‘ Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, Wilber Marshall, and, of course, McMahon and Sweetness (Payton) ‘ graced his bedroom walls. On game days, he’d don a makeshift headband with ‘McMahon’ written on it and a pair of black sunglasses, looking like a much younger version of the NFL quarterback, minus the eye injury that was behind the real Bear’s need to wear shades.
I’m not quite sure when Randy decided he wasn’t a Bears fan. It might have been about the same time he realized there were other colleges besides Purdue University. That’s another story. He selected the Detroit Lions as his favorite NFL team.
Kimberly, my daughter, got the earliest start of anyone in the immediate family of watching the Chicago team. She was born the day the Bears beat the Detroit Lions (sorry, Randy) on Dec. 22, 1985, to win the NFC Central title. Her father and I had planned to watch the big game that Sunday, so when labor started early that morning, I reassured the soon-to-be-daddy (again) that he’d get to see the game. Luckily, Harrison County Hospital has TVs in their birthing rooms, but the angle is a little awkward for everyone except the patient.
After posting a 15-1 record during regular season, Coach Mike Ditka led his team to Super Bowl victory, its first since the Bears was founded in 1933. Soon the players found themselves learning new moves, as they recorded the Super Bowl Shuffle, a rap video that poked fun at themselves. Talk about a team that knew how to enjoy life on and off the field.
But, in 1984, about 182 miles down Interstate 65, a team found a new home, in a dome. Initially, the Indianapolis Colts weren’t as tough as the Bears, whose Soldier Field was known to produce snow and wind ‘ Bear weather ‘ but they were determined to play the game.
The early years in the Circle City weren’t as kind to the Colts as they had been while the team was in Baltimore, where they won four NFL Championships and a Super Bowl. Their new home, first named the Hoosier Dome then later the RCA Dome, didn’t get much use by the team except during regular season. (Our two marching bands, Corydon Central Vanguard and North Harrison Marching Cougars, have certainly enjoyed competing in the Dome!)
It took the arrival of Peyton Manning nine years ago to serve as the Colts’ nucleus before the Hoosier state could start dreaming of a Super Bowl appearance. Throw in a few other key players ‘ Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne ‘ and championship playoffs began to be the norm. Still, the Colts couldn’t seem to advance their season any further.
That is until this year. Minus James but with the addition of Adam Vinatieri, the Colts, headed by Tony Dungy, finally turned the table on the New England Patriots, who kept spoiling their hopes. Ironically, it was the Patriots who lost to the Bears in Super Bowl XX. Other Colts becoming household names include Jeff Saturday, Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes and Bob Sanders. Colts’ fans can rest easy that their team is going to be around for awhile. Soon they’ll have a new home turf, Lucas Oil Stadium, where, hopefully, they can carry on a winning tradition.
One other point of interest about Sunday’s match-up is the two coaches. Dungy will go up against his friend, Lovie Smith. It’s only fitting that the two will go down in history as the first African-Americans to coach a team in a Super Bowl.
So regardless of who wins Super Bowl XLI, the Midwest will be well represented in the Sunshine state when the two teams square off in Miami.
My son finally has uttered the words ‘Go, Bears!’ for the first time since he was about 4 or 5. Guess that means if I have to choose, let’s hear it for the home team! I’m blue all the way!