Bears Are Being Left Behind in Super Bowl Era

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The Bears are second among all NFL franchises with 9 championships, 4 behind the rival Green Bay Packers who hold 13 NFL championships.   Another Super Bowl has gone by and it’s another year without a championship for our Chicago Bears.    It’s becoming an all-too-common occurrence and I’m sick and tired of it.  The Chicago Bears are the charter franchise on the NFL.  Without the Bears and the vision of George “Papa Bear” Halas, we’re probably all soccer fans and are none the wiser.

Prior to the Super Bowl era – from 1920 until 1965 – the Bears captured eight NFL championships, but in the 46 years of the Super Bowl era, they’ve achieved the ultimate goal just one time.  Just to put some perspective around those numbers; in the 45 years of the pre-Super Bowl era, the Bears won a championship every 5.6 years but they’ve done it just once in the 46 years since.  Why has this once-proud franchise fallen from the ranks of the elite?

The Bears are forced to look up at the Steelers (6), Cowboys and Niners (5 each), Packers and Giants (4 apiece) among others with more Super Bowl titles.  Why do the Beloved only have as many Super Bowls as Tampa Bay and St Louis Rams?   Let’s hit the jump to see the full list of NFL Champions and discuss some reasons why the Bears are being left behind in the Super Bowl era.

List of NFL Champions

Franchise NFL Championships AFL Championships AAFC Championships Super Bowls Total
Green Bay Packers 9* 4 13
Chicago Bears 8 1 9
New York Giants# 4 4 8
Cleveland Browns 4 4 8
Pittsburgh Steelers 6 6
Washington Redskins 2 3 5
Dallas Cowboys 5 5
San Francisco 49ers 5 5
Detroit Lions 4 4
Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts 2* 2 4
Oakland Raiders * 3 3
Philadelphia Eagles 3 3
St. Louis Rams 2 1 3
New England Patriots 3 3
Arizona Cardinals 2 2
Canton Bulldogs† 2 2
Kansas City Chiefs 1* 1 2
Buffalo Bills 2 2
Tennessee Titans 2 2
Denver Broncos 2 2
Miami Dolphins 2 2
Akron Pros† 1 1
Cleveland Bulldogs† 1 1
Frankford Yellow Jackets† 1 1
Providence Steam Roller† 1 1
New York Jets * 1 1
San Diego Chargers 1 1
Baltimore Ravens 1 1
New Orleans Saints 1 1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 1
Minnesota Vikings * 0
Houston Texans 0
Cincinnati Bengals 0
Jacksonville Jaguars 0
Atlanta Falcons 0
Carolina Panthers 0
Seattle Seahawks 0

So why are the Bears being left behind?

Lack of Vision

Back in the early days of the NFL, the Bears were a visionary franchise.  They were on the cutting edge with such things as the T-formation (you know, like in the fight song!).  Papa Bear also pioneered things like daily practices, using film to analyze opponents and even putting assistant coaches in the press box during games.  What sort of innovations have they had since?  The one I can think of off the cuff is the 46-defense.  What happened that year?  SUPER BOWL my friend!


The Bears are tops among all NFL teams with 27 members in the NFL Hall of Fame.  All but 8 of those players were active in the NFL prior to the Super Bowl era.   Four of those eight players plus Jim Finks (Bears GM from ’74-’82) were involved in the 1985 Super Bowl.  That leaves 3 guys – Sayers, Butkus and Alan Page – that played in the era between titles.  Of the current Chicago Bears, Brian Urlacher looks like the only Hall of Fame position player.  Devin Hester would have to break some barriers down for as a return man to get the call to the Hall.

Maybe this is a chicken and the egg situation.  Would more players get into the Hall of Fame if the Bears had more titles?  Probably.  But better players – Hall 0f Fame caliber players – would also mean more championships.

Misers of the Midway

George Halas would never be confused with Daniel Snyder or Jerry Jones.  The old man had a reputation of throwing nickels around like manhole covers.  In the Super Bowl era the NFL has become more big business and the McCaskey family has carried on the tradition of Papa Bear – they’re cheap. Don’t let the monster Julius Peppers-type contracts fool you.   The Bears will drop money on players when they need to fill a big void.  It’s the other areas where they’re cheap.

They hire first timers and head coaches.  Ditka, Wannie, Jauron and Lovie were all first time head coaches, guys you can get on the cheap.   They resist canning Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo because they have years left on their contracts.  Even their stadium deal, brokered through the city and the Chicago Park District, was done on the cheap.  What would Jerry Jones have brought to the shores of Lake Michigan if he were in charge?

The Bears are penny wise (coaches, scouts, GM) and dollar foolish (overpaying players like Julius Peppers to fill holes).  The best organizations don’t need to spend big bucks on free agents; they use their home grown talent to consistently make trips to the playoffs.   (I know that’s why Phil Emery was brought in, but it’s a move that’s 3 years too late.)

It’s Our Fault

Jan 26, 1986; New Orleans, LA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka is hoisted by his players after defeating the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XX at the Louisiana Superdome. The Bears won 46-10. Mandatory Credit: Dick Raphael-US PRESSWIRE

The Bears were able to ride their Super Bowl XX victory for 20 years.  In a then-title starved town, the ’85 Bears became legendary, the first championship in the city in 20+ years.  Just when the buzz from the Super Bowl Shuffle was wearing off, a trip to Super Bowl XLI seemed to buy the Bears a few more years of equity with the fans.   Heck, the front office treated their loss to the Packers in the NFC Championship game as another title, buying everyone more time.

It’s our fault, Bears fans.  We keep turning the turnstiles at Soldier Field and keep depositing cash into the McCaskeys’ coffers.  The season ticket waiting list is long enough that my 6 week old daughter might be able to get tickets by the time she turns 18.  If you drop your tickets, there is a line of people waiting for the chance to snap them up.  The McCaskeys know that and just need to put a winner out there every couple of decades and that will appease the masses and keep the cash registers clicking away.  That time is up.  Championships by the Bulls, White Sox and Blackhawks since have upped the ante on the Bears.  (Don’t get me started on the Cubs!)  It’s not good enough to win a championship every quarter century.  Today’s NFL is fast reaction, instant gratification, worst-to-first.

What do you think?  Is it the McCaskey’s fault?  Is it our fault?  Has the game changed and passed the organization by?  Let’s hear your comments!


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