In the Fall of 1985, it rained nearly every day in Iowa City.
I gave up using an umbrella after three of them became so full of mildew that I had to throw them out.
That Fall, I was in the unenviable position of living in Burge Hall. Burge was a massive co-ed dormitory. It was noisy and crowded. It was ranked number 3 on David Letterman’s Top 10 List of Party Dorms. It smelled like a combination of urine, stale beer, and rotten apples.
Despite the rain and the stench, life was good in Burge. We spent our Friday nights trying to sneak kegs onto our floor, and our Saturdays down at Kinnick stadium watching our #1 in the nation Iowa Hawkeyes win football games. The Rose Bowl was imminent. Chuck Long was going to win the Heisman. On Sundays, we would all settle down in someone’s room to watch the Chicago Bears on a snowy TV also win their games.
In those days, the majority of the University of Iowa students were from the Chicagoland area, and were basically bottle fed on the Bears. For us, life was all about the possibility, finally, that the Bears would win the Superbowl. Payton, McMahon, Singletary, Dent, Perry. We knew everything about them. We cheered hard for them, even if the hangover made it painful to do so.
And next week, 25 years ago, the Monsters of the Midway won the Superbowl. It was one of the happiest times of my life.
This weekend, the Chicago Bears play the Greenbay Packers for the right to play in the Superbowl.
All this Fall, it has felt a little bit like 1985 all over again. I’m not talking about the beer smell. It is more about the camaraderie.
Here in Toronto, one of the guys in my office is a Packer fan. His office is decked out in green and yellow. He wears a Packers tie every Monday. He can recite Aaron Rogers throwing percentage. To this point, I haven’t met anyone like him in Toronto. He’s made this Fall very enjoyable to be at the office.
He would be just an average Joe in Chicago though. For his safety, if he were ever to travel to Chicago I would suggest putting away his Packers garb.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like I need a 1986 Superbowl experience. I need friends and colleagues who appreciate what it is like to cheer for the home team and see them through to the championship. I need to be silly. I need to be raucous. I need to sneak a keg up four flights of stairs. I need to put down my HR hat for a moment.
This is a problem, because once you are a professional, it is really difficult to be raucous without consequences. There are certain standards after all. We have reputations. There is a limited ability to practice the “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” philosophy. 25 years later, the risk that the photos might end up on Facebook or the video on Youtube is something you have to think about before you go ahead and do things you might regret later.
If you get a chance, don’t miss the Divisional championships on Saturday. Watch the backstories. Join the wave. Shout at the television. And if you feel up to it, do a little something that perhaps you shouldn’t (and don’t take pictures).