After yet another agonizing baseball season which saw disinterest from Chicago sports fans, a lot of them hoped the Bears would cure what ailed them.
Well, keep looking.
Sunday’s game featured yet another disastrous performance by Jay Cutler and numerous miscues by the team as the Bears fumbled away a victory and lost to the Carolina Panthers 31-24.
While the game over Fox-owned WFLD scored a 28.5 household rating and is expected to be the highest-rated program of the week (how sad), it’s a ten percent decrease from the previous week’s game against the Packers, where the Bears also lost.
And to make matters worse, one of the Bears’ players took to Twitter Monday to blast the fanbase for not supporting them and to rally the meathead portion of the fanbase. Not surprisingly, many fired back.
The tensions between the Bears and their fans comes at a time when the NFL is still recovering from many PR embarrassments, including inept handling of Ray Rice’s assault of his then-finance in an elevator, and several players being arrested this season for domestic violence incidents, and Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of these issues.
Then came the Bears’ own inept handling of these issues when the organization let Brandon Marshall address the media a few weeks ago about his own domestic violence incidents, brought up during an ESPN investigation. Marshall has also been no-shows at his ESPN 1000 and WMAQ-TV’s Sports Sunday gigs (money well spent, Disney and Comcast.)
It’s not to say the relationship between the NFL and fans have hit a low point; ratings are still solid for the league’s partners and sponsors continue to stick with the league. On the other hand, the NFL’s arrogance is starting to catch up with them.
As for the Bears, this mess is reminiscent of those bad Bears teams from the 1990’s in the Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron eras. At one point, the Bears nearly came close to getting blacked out on home TV a few times because fans weren’t buying enough tickets. It took years for the Bears to return to the top of the sports chain in Chicago (until, of course, they were knocked off by the Blackhawks.)
And it doesn’t get easier: next week, the Bears play in Atlanta against old teammate Devin Hester; and play Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Oct. 26., and a prime-time rematch against Green Bay on Nov. 9. And with each loss, ratings – and possibly home attendance – are sure to decline.
So far, the 2014 Chicago Bears season is playing out like a bad network sitcom. The only thing missing is the canned laugh track.