I am super excited for tomorrow night's game between the Chicago Bears and the Carolina Panthers. This is likely the least anticipated Thursday night football game of the 2023 NFL season because the teams have a combined record of three wins and fourteen losses, but this is my personal Super Bowl.
During the first nine years of my life, I was the biggest Carolina Panthers fan that you could imagine. That wasn’t until the Chicago Bears drafted a running back we all know and love, Matt Forte. ￼In 2008, I got super into collecting football trading cards, and all I wanted for Christmas was to get a Matt Forte rookie card. Christmas morning of 2008, I woke up to find two Matt Forte rookie cards waiting for me—one from Bowman and one from Upper Deck. I still have both cards, and though combined, they are worth maybe five dollars on a good day, to me, they are the most valuable collectible items that I own because they represent why I am a Bears fan.
In September 2008, the Chicago Bears traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, to play the Carolina Panthers for the first time since drafting Forte. That Sunday morning, I asked my dad if we were going to the game. He told me that we were not going, and of course, I was relatively upset. We went about our day and went to church that morning, but as soon as we got home, my dad quickly hopped online and scored some tickets off eBay. At the time, buying things off of eBay was pretty sketchy.
I distinctly remember my dad telling me, “Get ready. We’re going to the game.” I do not think I have ever been so excited to go to a sporting event in my entire life.
We had gotten to the Bank of America Stadium and waited outside the northeast entrance of the stadium to meet up with the guy who sold us the tickets over eBay. Surprisingly enough, he did show up, and we were on our way in.
I remember that game being absolutely starstruck. Matt Forte, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles “Peanut” Tillman. Hell, I was even excited for Kyle Orton. The Panthers had some players to get excited about as well. DeAngelo Williams, Brad Hoover, Muhsin Muhammad, Julius Peppers, Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, and Chris Gamble. Can you start to see why I was so excited?
I don’t remember much about the actual game. I just remember having the absolute time of my life. The Bears would go on to lose that game 20 to 17, but that did not matter to me. That day, I truly became a Chicago Bears fan. Looking back, I’m glad I was old enough to remember vividly attending that game.
So, although most of you will be complaining about watching two terrible teams playing against one another on a Thursday night, tomorrow night, I am reminded why I love football.