It all started with a phone call from my sister, Jean. We talked about a variety of things and she mentioned that her husband and my brother-in-law, Pat, had tickets to the Chicago Bears game.
The Chicago Bears? I then got my bearings and realized the NFL preseason begins the first week of August. I guess my mind was still on baseball because it was hot and humid outside. It turns out my brother-in-law’s cousin is a longtime season ticketholder.
The Bears were scheduled to play hosts to the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, minus retired quarterback Peyton Manning. Hey, I thought, why not? The chances of the Bears winning this exhibition game (oh, sorry NFL, I mean preseason) were remote at best. I had not seen a Bears game since the early 1980s when St. Rita product and offense tackle Dennis Lick suffered a knee injury. He never played for the Bears again.
I had not been to Soldier Field since had been renovated. The last time I was there was for a Rolling Stones Concert in 1998. And this was a chance to see the Bears play again, win or lose. They lost the first time I saw them play.
In a recent column, I mentioned how I had an unfortunate string of bad luck attending White Sox games. In two instances, I never saw the end of the games due to passing thunderstorms. The first game was called after eight innings with the Sox trailing. Two days later with my son, the rain returned. At least the Sox were tied when they suspended this game.
So I figured what bad can happen at the Bears game? I left with Pat for the game and arrived at his cousin’s house in the western suburbs. Pat told me that his cousin knew his way around Soldier Field and would get us there in great time. He did just that and we had time to tailgate before the game. We had a few sandwiches, some fruit and some beverages. The bus picked us up and we got there quickly.
For someone that had not entered Solider Field in this century, it has changed dramatically. I could see the area where the old seating was at old Solider Field. You could fit a lot of people in those seats but they were far from comfortable. The renovated Solider Field seating is much better and closer to the field.
Everything was great until the game started. Jay Cutler was the Bears quarterback for the first quarter. He had little time to throw and spent most of the first quarter on his back. The running game never got going. The offensive line could not handle the outstanding and quick defense of the Broncos. The game was essentially over after the first quarter.
The only thing to look forward to was to cheer the Bears when they finally scored. And we waited and waited. Since the Bears were losing 22-0 in the fourth quarter, there was no need to wait any longer. Still, I had a fun time and I can say I was at the new Soldier Field.
We then went outside and waited for the bus that would bring us to a lot near McCormick Place off a street called Moe. I never knew there was a street in Chicago called Moe. The only name that comes to mind is Moses Horowitz, who was better known as Moe Howard. In any event we waited for our bus. People who were going to the lot near Millennium Park were more fortunate. They had several buses pull up and pull way as we continued to sit there. We waited and waited. My brother-in-law asked someone is this normal? The person’s response was it is the first game and this happens. Pat was incredulous. “The first game, that’s no excuse. Some of these people have been working here 25 years. You would think they would get it right by now.”
Well, after nearly an hour, our bus finally arrived. Someone mentioned that the tunnel was filled with vehicles. That must have been the reason our bus driver began to go north on Lake Shore Drive, turn at Balbo to Columbus and go south back to Solider Field. Al this took place on a jammed bus. Nearly 45 minutes later we got back to Moe Street. What took place after was fit for a Three Stooges short.
We crawled along Moe Street only to face cars heading in our direction. Drivers were coming out of the lot and taking up all the lanes of traffic. The bus driver did show patience because these cars had to back up to allow us through. She finally stopped her bus near our parking lot and put up her stop sign. A passenger on the bus got in the middle of the street and held up traffic with his outstretched hand.
That allowed for us to cross the street and enter our car. On the bright side, it was supposed to rain and did not. At least I stayed dry, unlike those Sox games. It was a fun experience.
I’m going to see the Sox play the Oakland A’s on Saturday night. The weather forecast calls for rain.
Somewhere, Moe Howard has to be laughing.
Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.