Bears Fans, It’s Time to Adopt the Carolina Panthers


Well, it’s been almost a week since the Bears season ended for all intents and purposes. Any fleeting hope for the playoffs has been dashed so the Bears have three games to go as they put their full focus on 2016. That’s not to say there’s no point to watch the Bears, but win or lose the result is the same. In fact, plenty of fans will say that at this point it’s better to hope the Bears lose games to improve their draft position. To be honest, although as a former athlete who is rather competitive, I would never endorse a team purposely losing games, it’s hard to argue against the logic that a loss at this point in the season is better than a win.

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But as NFL fans, we still have three regular season games to go plus the playoffs. Football fans will always watch football even if it’s the Cleveland Browns against the Detroit Lions, but football is all the better when you have a rooting interest. Chicago may be out, but there is a team that’s perfect for Bears fans to cheer to victory. They are talented, fun to watch, and are poised to make a deep run in the playoffs.

Bears fans, it’s time to adopt the Carolina Panthers.

No, this is not a long term plan, it’s simply for the next two months. The Panthers sit at 13-0 and have a legitimate shot to go undefeated. Ordinarily, as a fan of the 1985 Chicago Bears, I root for all teams to lose a game. No NFL team has ever gone 16-0 and won the Super Bowl and if the ’85 Bears couldn’t do it, I’ve never wanted anyone else to do it either. When the New England Patriots were going for the perfect season in 2007, I became as big a New York Giants fan as anybody hoping they could dethrone New England.

But this Carolina Panthers team is different. First of all, let’s put this out there, nobody is going to call this team the greatest team of all-time if they go 19-0 en route to a Super Bowl championship. That chatter hasn’t started and I don’t expect it to, if they do pull off the remarkable feat, I expect this team to get lumped in with the 1972 Miami Dolphins as a great team, but definitely not the greatest, despite their undefeated record.

As a team that poses no threat to dethrone the ’85 Bears as the greatest of all-time, who better to go undefeated than a team coached by a former ’85 Bear? Ron Rivera was a linebacker on the ’85 squad. Although he didn’t make a major impact on the field, he was still part of the team and as an alumni of the Chicago Bears, especially the Super Bowl champion, Bears fans should always wish him well. Rivera deserves a lot of credit to where he has gotten as a coach. This is a man that started off his coaching career as a defensive assistant at Barrington High School (in suburban Chicago) in 1995 and worked his way up to a successful defensive coordinator with the Bears to now a successful head coach with the Panthers. If there was any coach currently in the NFL that went 19-0, it would be great if it was Ron Rivera.

The Bears’ ties don’t end there. The Panthers also have former Bear Greg Olsen catching passes from Cam Newton. There isn’t a Bears fan alive that thinks shipping Olsen off to Carolina for a third round pick in 2011 was a good idea. Now, Olsen has become one of the elite tight ends in the sport and deserves to be successful at the highest level.

Jul 31, 2015; Spartanburg, SC, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive back Charles Tillman (31) stretches prior to the start of training camp held at Wofford College. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Of course the Bears also shipped Jared Allen off to Carolina earlier this year. Allen is not exactly a classic Bear, but he’s still a former Bear nevertheless. But one current Panther that is a classic Bear is Charles “Peanut” Tillman who has proven that he’s still good enough to start on an elite defense. Tillman has missed several games of late due to an injury, but he’s due back soon and if Rivera, Olsen, and Allen weren’t enough reason to cheer for Carolina, Peanut certainly is. There isn’t a man in the history of the league that exudes more class than Charles Tillman. As a fan of the Bears and Tillman himself, I wish him nothing but success and if he could finish his career on an undefeated Panthers team and the winners of Super Bowl 50, that’s something that should bring a smile to any Bears’ fan.

The Bears season might be over, but for some former Bears, it most certainly isn’t. Let’s take the greatest football fan base in America and throw it behind Riverboat Ron, Jared Allen, Greg Olsen, and most of all, Peanut Tillman. It could be a historic season in Charlotte, and the Panthers have my endorsement.