Chicago Bears

Opinion: Are the Chicago Bears Becoming Irrelevant?

A Chicago Bears fan and season ticket holder since 1959 mailed a letter to team owner George McCaskey last year after a frustrating past several seasons. The fan said he never heard back and, after another bad year, is selling his season tickets

"Dear Mr. McCaskey" ... began the handwritten letter mailed last year to Chicago Bears team owner George McCaskey.

The author: a Bears fan and season ticket holder since 1959. He was frustrated and looking for answers after a 6-10 2015 season.

Since the Bears' 1963 Championship, 1985 Super Bowl victory and 2006 NFC Championship (before the team lost Super Bowl XLI to the Colts), the season ticket holder has seen three coaches, 78 losses and zero playoff appearances in what will be seven straight seasons.

The 64-year-old Bears fan, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed his disappointment in the team’s “performance, management and ownership.”

Echoing often-heard criticisms of the team’s “lack of communication,” he cited head coach John Fox’s press conferences in which, as the season ticket holder said, Fox speaks “in riddles." He wondered why Bears fans only hear from General Manager Ryan Pace twice a year. He also asked McCaskey why ownership input appears to “not exist."

This should be troubling to the Chicago Bears in a city where the NFL is king. Generations of fans pass down their season tickets at a steep price, but check out Groupon, a discount online service, and you can find cheap and available Bears tickets almost as easily as Bears losses. 

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This west suburban Chicago ticket holder gladly took over four season tickets from his father, but now he said his children and grandchildren are not interested. He told McCaskey his worst fears are coming true: The Chicago Bears are becoming irrelevant. 

Count the empty seats at Soldier Field on Sunday. Sure, it’s Christmas Eve, but 20 years ago you would not even consider staying home from a Bears home game. Now? At least one season ticket holder, who spent $5,500 a year for two tickets, isn’t going. Not only that, he is not renewing. He sold two of his four seats last season. He no longer believes in what's coming out of 1920 Football Drive. 

He is not alone. There are others. Are the Bears listening? 

The writer of this letter isn’t sure. George McCaskey never responded to the hand-written letter sent over a year ago. The ticket office never called to ask why they weren’t renewing. This disgruntled season ticket holder asked McCaskey to sell the team or more fans like him will continue to sell their tickets. 

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This Bears fan also has Cubs season tickets. He hears from that team owner constantly throughout the season, he said. Not just after winning a World Series, but during the down years of rebuilding before then. Tom Ricketts and Cubs management constantly showed up to explain their approach, he said, to console fans and earn their trust. 

The Bears owner? Nice enough guy, he said, but fans and season ticket holders hear from him once or twice a year: at training camp and then maybe after another sub-.500 season ends on New Year’s Eve. Then he may fire his third coach in six years. And he may express how angry their mother Virginia is. 

Bears fans are angry too. So are Bears season ticket holders. 

They deserve an explanation. They deserve a response. They deserve more.

Peggy Kusinski covered the Chicago Bears from 1992 through 2015

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