Bears Spare Fans Playoff Misery By Skipping Playoffs
December 29, 2008
(Houston, TX) – The Chicago Bears entered Sunday, the last week of the regular season, with an excellent chance of making the playoffs. But after a 31-24 loss to the Houston Texans, the Bears found themselves squarely on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
And that’s exactly where they wanted to be.
It was a season of ups and downs for the Bears, but when all was said and done, their season finished without a trip to the playoffs. Most would say that’s a disappointing outcome, but the Bears say it’s what they were planning all along.
“Of course most teams are just trying to get into the playoffs,” Bears head coach Lovie Smith said after the loss. “They don’t let themselves think about getting to the NFC championship game, or the Super Bowl. They don’t want to get ahead of themselves and think about that. Well, that’s kind of how we were thinking. We didn’t want to think about getting into the playoffs. We didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We were just focused on ending the regular season.”
But why would the Bears be so interested in avoiding the playoffs? After all, isn’t that the goal of every major sports franchise?
“Look, it’s a tough time for the fans of Chicago,” Smith explained. “We haven’t been great since the ’80s. The Bulls haven’t been the same without Jordan. The Cubs are the Cubs, and to top it all off, the good fans of Chicago have to deal with White Sox fans traipsing around like they own the damn place.”
“We all saw what happened this year and last year with the Cubs. They had a great regular season, and made it to the playoffs. Everyone was hopeful and excited. And then boom, a playoff sweep, and it’s over. And it’s heartbreaking for the fans. We just couldn’t do that to our fans anymore. So we did the honorable thing. We made sure we wouldn’t make the playoffs.”
“I tell you what, it wasn’t exactly easy, either. It was tough to lose to the Texans today. They weren’t playing for anything. So we really had to step it down, and fight through the urge to play smart and play well. We knew could win, and still miss the playoffs if the Vikings won, and either the Buccanneers or Cowboys won. But the Cowboys were playing in the late game, and we just couldn’t take that chance. Good thing we took care of our own business and lost, otherwise, we’d be stuck in the playoffs now [after the Buccaneers and Cowboys both lost].”
Smith concluded his remarks by lamenting that they should have made the decision to skip the playoffs much sooner, so that the fans didn’t have to suffer through 16 games of hope.
“I’ll tell you what. The Bulls are doing it right this year.”