Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011
Posted: 11:03 p.m.
By John Mullin
It is difficult to have a hate-filled rivalry when the two central figures in the building drama get along. Quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers are in touch with each other away from Fields Soldier and Lambeau.
Yeah, I texted him after the divisional game in Atlanta and said good game, Cutler said. Well have a friendly little banter.
All of the banter wont be totally friendly when the Bears host their greatest rival next Sunday at Soldier Field at 2 p.m.
Yet where once the rivalry was marked by dirty football, with gridiron thugs like Charles Martin body-slamming Jim McMahon or Ken Stills late-hitting Matt Suhey (and some Bears perpetrating mayhem on the occasional Packer), and coarse exchanges between a Mike Ditka and Forrest Gregg, now the antipathy is tinged with respect.
We dont like them, said center Olin Kreutz. Theres a tremendous amount of respect for each other. But it usually works out that the guy you respect the most is the guy you hate the most.
For safety Danieal Manning, Its a love-hate thing. All the players know each other, the coaches know each other, the owners know each other.
We respect them because they are so good. And thats part of why we dont like them.
When the Bears lost to the Packers back on Jan. 2 in Green Bay, they missed a chance to eliminate the Packers from the playoffs. As they left the field that night, the Bears had a sense that they would see the Packers again.
We did, Kreutz said. We knew that if we won and they play like theyre capable of playing, we might see them again.
Finally, the NFCs two best
The Bears win over the Seattle Seahawks and the Packers road wins over Philadelphia and Atlanta have brought together what can only be called the two best teams in the NFC, critics notwithstanding.
The Packers may have stumbled at times this season (perhaps not surprising with their franchise quarterback suffering two concussions and one-fourth of a roster winding up on IR).
So have the Bears, losing those three of the first seven.
The Bears offensive line and the Packers running game have a lot in common: weaknesses that supposedly would undo each.
Neither did. And the NFC juggernauts in Atlanta, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia werent better than these two.
There was a lot of good teams, said defensive end Julius Peppers. We earned this. Both of us earned this opportunity to be right where we are.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information