Imagine this: Tarzan punches a Cub right in his nose and starts a family rivalry…NO, not the Ape man and a Tiger Cub. I’m talking about John “Taylor” Tarzan, a guard for the then Chicago Staleys and Howard “Cub” Buck, a tackle for the Green Bay Packers. The Bears-Packer’s rivalry is said to have started back in 1921 when Tarzan’s punch “accidentally” broke the nose of the Cub. 100 years later, this rivalry is still considered the oldest in the NFL, prompting massive fan bases and countless fan feuds between the two cities.
From the ‘20s through the ‘50s, Chicago was an indestructible force against the Packers, with George “Papa Bear” Halas notching a smashing 6 NFL Championships in his career as Head Coach. But things started to change in Green Bay when, in 1959, Vince Lombardi accepted their offer to become the head coach, and the magic started to happen. The Packers were a dominant force to be reckoned with. Their most exciting years came in the ’66 and ’67 seasons when they won both the NFC Championships and Super Bowls Ⅰ and Ⅱ, while continuing to lead the Bears-Packers rivalry 54-41-6 through the rest of the ‘60s.
Into the ‘70s both teams continued to battle each other over their dominance in the rivalry. Chicago’s greatest decade came in the 1980’s. In 1982, Mike Ditka, who had played under Halas in the ‘60s, accepted an offer to become the head coach of the Bears. There, 3 seasons later, Chicago made its way to the top and won Super Bowl XX. Chicago continued to lead the Bears-Packers rivalry until the ‘90s, when Brett Favre made his debut in 1992 and turned things around for the Packers, leading them to two Super Bowls and winning one. Favre continued to show the Packers off to the NFL in the early 2000’s and before leaving for Minnesota in 2007 allowing Green Bay to introduce Aaron Rodgers in 2008, another indestructible force to be reckoned with. Rodgers has furthered the success of the once tiny blue collar town of Green Bay turning it into a colossal giant in the NFL while giving the NFL its most competitive and storied rivalry. Today, Green Bay leads the Bears-Packers rivalry with a record of 99-95-6.
The most interesting aspect of the rivalry is not so much from the teams, but from the fans of both teams. Every year, residents of each city drive hours to the opposing stadium to watch their respected team beat the other one and the competition only gets more intense every year. While the NFL continues to grow in popularity year after year, both teams continue to gain new “members”; sometimes it’s even to the extent that someone will deviate to Chicago just because his girlfriend is a packer or someone’s Mom won’t let them eat unless they swear allegiance to The Bears.
In 1985, Chicago had what would become the best defense the NFL has ever had and since then, that’s what Chicago seems to holds onto as if it’s going to be the thing that takes them to 15-1. Every year that the Bears play the Packers, it seems like the Packers seem to bring an offense that outsmarts the Bear’s defense. More recently, Chicago has started to bring their mojo back, in terms of figuring out how to get to the Packers. Their biggest problem, like most years, is their quarterback. During the offseason, Nick Foles (former Eagles QB) was brought on to replace Trubisky as starting QB, and is looking to push Mitch to return to the QB he was back in 2018. Before them, Jay Cutler and while he still has the most attempted yards in Bear’s history, Cutler was inconsistent. Before Cutler, Rex Grossman was a solid QB for the Bears and even led them to the Super Bowl in 2007, but his two interceptions and two fumbles ultimately led Chicago to lose to Indianapolis that year.
On the flip side, Green Bay has repeatedly put together successful offenses since inception, but more recently, they have failed to deliver top notch performances when playing against Chicago’s defense. This season should be an interesting one at best. With Covid-19 still evolving in the United States and the 2020 Draft over now, it will be quite a year for Chicago and Green Bay, with Foles joining the Bears and Green Bay drafting Jordan Love, a recent graduate from Utah State, anything is up in the air for the NFL but one thing remains: that hundred year rivalry.