One Super Sunday

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

The 1985 Chicago Bears went 15-1 in the regular season, outscored their three playoff opponents 91-10, and were so confident they recorded a song for charity called “Super Bowl Shuffle” before the playoffs began.

They gave opponents nightmares, but they gave then-12-year-old Darren Keith some of the greatest moments of his youth in Schaumburg, Ill.

“Our whole neighborhood used to get together and watch the games,” Keith said. “That’s when Chicago football was introduced to me big time. Just growing up at that time was a great experience.”

The culmination of that experience was a 45-10 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts will be the Bears’ first Super Bowl appearance since then. Keith, now 33 and a firefighter for Cannon Air Force Base, has been building up toward this game for most of his life.

“It will be a great day Sunday,” he said.

Though he’s hundreds of miles away, he keeps his home full of Bears merchandise, including a Walter Payton bobblehead doll, a Super Bowl champions pennant and a video of “Super Bowl Shuffle.”

He sees Indianapolis as a worthy opponent, but thinks they’ve been inconsistent throughout the regular season and playoffs, and the game should go to the Bears if they can establish their run game.

He won’t be watching from home, though. His job has a shift of 24 hours on followed by 24 hours off, and Sunday is his day to work.

Instead, he’s bringing the party to work. Keith said three others on shift that day are Illinois natives, and they’ll hope for plenty of Bears touchdowns and no fires at the base.

“Hopefully,” he said, “it will be a quiet day for us.”

Kim Chisum keeps a list of coworker birthdays on her bulletin board at work, and the rest of her office is loaded with pictures and newspaper clippings of her two daughters and family friends.

It’s evident Chisum likes to keep family and friends involved, but she was on her own Thursday in her Peyton Manning jersey and office door decorated with Colts items among a sea of coworkers going for the Bears.

“I don’t care if I’m the only one rooting for Peyton,” said Chisum, who works as a state employee.

A lifelong Clovis resident, Chisum has followed Manning since he arrived in Indianapolis, and she’s used to situations where she’s the only Colts fan because most of her family lives in Dallas.

“It was a lot of fun,” Chisum said of going to Dallas for the Nov. 19 Cowboys/Colts game. “My sister and I and our husbands went. They all had Cowboys jerseys on, and I had my Peyton Manning jersey on. It would have been better if we’d have won that game (the Colts lost 21-14), but it was fun.”

That was the first Colts’ loss of the season, and it started a 2-4 slide that knocked them out of consideration for a first-round bye. The Colts instead beat Kansas City 23-8, Baltimore 15-6 and New England 38-34 in a game in which the Patriots took an early 21-3 lead.

“I changed seats, I took my jersey off, and I sat on the floor,” Chisum said of her cheering routine. “If we get behind (Sunday), I might have to take the jersey off.”

She’ll be watching the game in Albuquerque when she visits daughters Whitney and Megan, and she hopes Manning and the Colts have one more win after dispatching the Patriots. But New Mexico roots means she can’t complain either way.

“It’s really hard because Brian Urlacher is from New Mexico. If Peyton can’t win it, I’d just as soon see Brian win it. I won’t be devastated. I’d just rather see Peyton win because he’s got that monkey on his back.”

If there’s a fan with torn loyalty, it would have to be Carolyn Langan of Clovis.

A retired Bovina school teacher, Langan has lived in the area for 25 years. She comes from Peru, Ind., about 75 miles north of Indianapolis. By location, she’s a Colts fan. By history, it’s a tossup because she left Peru before the Colts left Baltimore in 1984 to call Indianapolis home.

“Everybody liked the Bears,” Langan said, “because that was the closest team.”

Langan admits she’s not a big football fan, but she’s definitely watching Sunday and rooting for the Colts.

Carolyn and her husband, George, are hosting a party with other family members and “whoever wants to come.”

But they can’t come if they’re rooting for the Bears, family or not.

“No, not in my house,” she said with a laugh. “I just talked to my sister the other day. Her husband said he was going for the Bears and I said, ‘Tell him I’m going to slap his face.’”

Armed with a love for football, and a greater love for being a contrarian, Kevin Jackson naturally picked the Chicago Bears.

“Everybody in my family is a Packers fan. The first game I saw live was a Packers-Bears game. To go against my family, I went with the Bears.”

In between the 1985 Bears squad and Sunday’s Super Bowl XLI, there have been some rough seasons for Jackson, who is a manager at a Clovis department store.

“Just watching them go 3-11, 3-12 all those years was frustrating,” Jackson said.

He figured something was going to be different this year, “about … the sixth week, after the game in Arizona when the defense came back and won that one.”

The Chicago Bears moved to 6-0 on that Monday Night Football game, despite six turnovers, three points on offense and a 20-0 halftime deficit.

He figures neither team will waste a 20-0 lead Sunday.

“I think it’s going to be a very good game. It’s going to come down to special teams. I think the offense for the Colts lines up well for the Bears, and the Bears’ offense lines up well against the Colts.”

If he had to guess, Jackson would predict a 21-14 Bears win.

David Richmond volunteered for the Navy and ended up on the U.S.S. Tennessee. Peyton Manning was a Volunteer, and ended up the starting quarterback for the University of Tennessee.

Richmond, an instructor at Wayland Baptist University in Clovis, has changed team loyalties but has remained steadfast with two Indianapolis Colts in particular.

“My family comes from the New England area and I was a Patriots fan for a long time,” Richmond said. “I became a Tampa Bay fan, and I’m still a Tampa Bay fan, when I went into the Navy in 1995. I went to a Tampa Bay game, it’s the only pro game I’ve been to.

“That’s why I’m pulling for the Colts because of (former Tampa Bay coach Tony) Dungy. I’d really like to see him do well, he’s a really good man.”

He feels the same way about Manning, and he’s had plenty of time to get to know the Colts quarterback.

“I was deployed on the U.S.S. Tennessee a couple of times. Most naval vessels, when they’re named after a location … they’re normally sponsored (by that location). So we were sponsored by the state of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee, specifically. We had some game gear from the university, and state flags, stuff like that. We used to watch a lot of game film on down time. Football’s really big in the United States and especially in the military.”

Richmond admits that he follows individual players in the professional ranks, and it’s been frustrating sometimes rooting for Manning because the Colts have historically fallen short in the playoffs.

“When they beat the Patriots a couple of weeks ago, it was a big sigh,” Richmond said. “It’s a tough thing being a Manning fan because that’s the big knock on him, that he can’t win the big game. It’s one of those (situations where) he’s too good to root for. He’s too nice of a guy. He’s the ultimate (example of) white knight mentality.”

Richmond is planning a party at his house, and he’ll have to lean on his military background to deal with enemy territory — most of the invited guests are Bears fans.

Super Bowl by the numbers

1: The over-under on rushing yards for Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, according to Grossman had rushed three times for 2 yards in three career playoff games.

7: The point spread for the game, in favor of the Colts.

8.5: Over-under for points to be scored by Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri. Before signing with the Colts, Vinatieri hit the game-winning field goal in all three New England Super Bowl victories.

9: Times, counting Sunday, Miami has hosted the game. New Orleans is the only other city to host the game as many times.

10: Largest deficit ever overcome in a Super Bowl win, when the Washington Redskins defeated the Denver Broncos 45-10 in Super Bowl XXII.

55: The maximum width, in inches, a television screen can be for large-group events showing the Super Bowl, according to the NFL’s copyright policy. Under pressure from the NFL, an Indianapolis church canceled a Super Bowl party that would have featured a 12-foot screen via projector, according to an article in Thursday’s Indianapolis Star.

300: Rings the NFL will purchase for the Bears and the Colts — 150 for the winner, 150 for the loser. The league pays approximately $5,000 per ring for the winners, with the value fluctuating because of gold and diamond prices. The rings for the losing team cannot cost more than 50 percent of the price for the champion rings.

2.6 million: Average price, in dollars, for a 30-second ad slot in this year’s game.

Sources: National Football League, for over-under bets unless otherwise noted.

Unusual bets

• Who will score more points: Indianapolis Colts, or Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James in Sunday afternoon’s NBA game against the Detroit Pistons? James is favored by half a point.

• Higher number: Grammy Awards won by James Blunt, or touchdown passes by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. Blunt is nominated for five awards. The line is even.

• Higher number: Tiger Woods’ fourth-round score in the Dubai Desert Classic, or receiving yards for Chicago’s Bernard Berrian. A $100 bet for Berrian pays $115.

• Team with longest kickoff return: Thanks to Bears return man Devin Hester, who set an NFL record with six return touchdowns this season, the Bears are the favorite. A $200 bet pays $100 for Chicago.

• Shortest field goal: The line is at 24 1/2 yards, so if you take the over, hope teams go for it on fourth down inside the 7.

• Most unlikely final score: Four points, which can only be scored by two safeties. The odds are 1,200:1 for either team to finish with four points.

• Even lines: Some of these are obvious (who will receive the opening kickoff), some are really obvious (whether the coin flip will be heads or tails) and some are tossups (first team to use a timeout, first coach to use instant replay challenge, which team will commit the final penalty)