written May 2009
Last week the Hubble telescope received its latest–and last–lease on life with an Atlantis face-lift. First launched in 1990 and operational by 1993, it allowed an intimacy with the heavens that conventional terrestrial lenses could never capture.
It is then fitting that during that same week the eternally Earth-bound Chicago Bears finally gleaned the possibilities of the skies. Onto the practice field of Olivet Nazarene University strode an elite quarterback, Jay Cutler, possessing the throwing arm–and yes, possibly the temperament–of Zeus.
At great risk of stretching an analogy too far, the Windy City faithful are all-too familiar with streaking Favre comets and Manning shooting stars, while the Bears have more often than not looked above…and shrugged.
George S. Halas, before he wrought the National Football League into existence in 1920, served in the Great War. Instead of perhaps becoming an Army fly-boy he chose to serve on naval ships. After the war Halas played for the Yankess–getting two hits during his New York career of 22 games, all in the outfield. It is tempting to wonder whether buzzing the clouds in a bi-wing, or hitters with a high spitter as a pitcher, might have hastened the Bears’ aerial experiments.
You must understand, around the year 1609 when Galileo Galilei crafted the first telescope the Bears did have a real-and-true star quarterback. Sid Luckman diced defenses and slew secondaries with the greatest of ease. He won championships and was celebrated in ye olde mead drinking shanties. The Hall of Famer threw of 14,686 years- still a Bears record (sigh), wore number 42 (eh?) and filmed zero ad spots for “G.”
The Bears then wandered in the wilderness for many years, coming upon the brief oasis of a McMahon or the fleeting mana of a Kramer. The quarterback law of averages has usually had no jurisdiction in Illinois.
This is exactly what makes Cutler such an orange and navy aberration. What, Bourbonnais seem to be giddily asking themselves, are we to make of a flesh-and-blood Pro Bowler, when Kyle Orton’s capable efficiency and short drop-offs seemed like much more than Chicago should rightly seek or except to find? I don’t quite know what is going to happen this fall, as we explore the mysteries of the forward pass, but it may just be out of this world.