Thirty-two days ago I began a journey into my first career outside of my native Wisconsin. I left the Badger State / America’s Dairyland / Heaven-On-Earth to be an employee of Cumulus Media’s four Chicago radio stations; 97.9 WLUP, 101.1 WKQX, 94.7 WLS-FM, and 890 WLS-AM. Already a fish out of water as a Wisconsinite in Chicago, I, the diehard Packer-backer, joined a company saturated with Bears fans. I’ll let that sink in for you loyal cheeseheads out there…
As a new employee in a large network filled with big personalities I approached the situation as any of you would… with copious amounts of smacktalk. Who could blame me? My goodbye to Wisconsin paralleled the Packer’s good bye week record of 6-0 and the Bears bad bye week record of 2-4. Hello Chicago! It was great to be a Packer fan in week seven no matter where you lived! I was in Chi-town rooting for Titletown. The City of the Big Shoulders rooting for the City of the Big Bellies. The Windy City rooting for the Winning City… but then they stopped winning.
Don’t blame Crosby. Don’t blame Ditka. Don’t blame Munn. Blame Biskupic.
It may seem like merely a coincidence that the Packers’ three-game losing streak correlates with my first few weeks in Chicago, and that may be true for their week eight loss to the Broncos, but something horrible happened in week nine. I wore a Bears jersey. It was orange. To be specific, it was orange like a rotting carrot grown in Satan’s garden. Stuck in a blasphemous situation for a person who bleeds green and gold, I wore that godforsaken jersey with a cover over my face.
Let me explain: For every Monday Night Football game, The Loop and WKQX present The Best Seat in The House and other radio promotions at Buffalo Wild Wings across Chicago. My job is to entertain the crowd with trivia and giveaways throughout the game. In the week nine MNF matchup, the Chicago Bears, coming off a losing streak, faced off against the San Diego Chargers. I knew I was required to wear a Bear jersey for the event so, to cover my identity and my dignity, I volunteered to wear the WKQX mascot costume underneath the jersey. I did the unimaginable and became an actual bear.
I sweat more in that costume than a pregnant nun in confession. Although wearing the monstrosity felt more sinful than my last sentence, I actually learned a lot about life through the eyes of a mascot.
- You can be the biggest jerk as a mascot and people will still love you. I could steal (then return) food, drinks, cellphones, girlfriends from Bear fans left and right and people would get a kick out of it. The inner Packer fan enjoyed that.
- People put too much trust in mascots. I don’t know which was a scarier moment from the night: when a young mother put her newborn baby in the fuzzy arms of the blind mascot or when a drunk man put his wife in the fuzzy arms of the tired mascot.
- Packer fans don’t need a sweaty guy in a costume to get excited about football. Even though the Bears were victorious against the Chargers and the following week against the Rams, the two Packer games I watched in weeks 9 and 10 were some of the most exhilarating (and heartbreaking) games I’ve seen all season.
Despite this rough patch in the mid-season, Packer fans will still fill Lambeau Stadium and cheer their team to victory, especially on Thanksgiving day when they face the Bears. I’ll be in attendance. In a green jersey. In my home state.