News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

January 24, 2007

Given to Fly: Sunday was a great day to watch dreams come true

TERRE HAUTE — For the record, Sunday marked the greatest day in NFL history. Colts vs. Bears. Super Bowl. Only in our dreams.

This matchup is a dream come true for coaches Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith. Peyton Manning finally wins the big one after all the regular season success, or the Bears’ defense is finally rewarded for its hard work over the years.

Dungy was right. Well, almost. He said the Colts and Bears should play the game off in Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne may have its share of Bears fans, but the point halfway between Indianapolis and Chicago is basically my parents backyard in rural Francesville — exactly 100 miles to Chicago and 99.7 miles to Indianapolis.

That yard was used more for Ryne Sandberg and Shawon Dunston impersonations, but I spent much of my youth watching either Mike Tomczak or Jim Harbaugh in a Bears and Colts jersey.

Several cousins introduced me and my brother to football at Thanksgiving. Before we knew it, we were rushing to fill our Thanksgiving plates to get in front of the TV and watch the Bears.

The Wabash Valley has its share of Bears fans, similar to my hometown’s sprinkling of Colts fans. The farther north you go, the more the Peyton Manning jerseys turn into Brian Urlacher.

As a football fan in college, I was on the fence.

In my Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house at ISU, one room would have a dozen fans of each team yelling across the hall at each other.

I’d usually just walk back and forth watching both games. Not wanting to miss a Bears interception return for a touchdown or a Peyton Manning touchdown pass, I’d listen for a roar from across the hall and sprint on over for the replay.

People have told me, I have to pick. ‘You can’t be a fan of both teams,’ people still say. This year’s Super Bowl wouldn’t be so sweet. Maybe West Lafayette would be a good locale for the teams to meet up. The city where Patriots’ linebacker Colvin and Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees played their college ball would be close to halfway. The Saints’ loss was predictable, but what a season Drew Brees had. And Terre Haute native Steve Weatherford had an unwanted busy day punting in Chicago. Kudos to him for earning that job; he’ll probably have it for a long time under coach Sean Payton.

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