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While it was one of the more frustrating seasons in recent memory, it wasn't completely without its highlights.
Let's take a minute to raise our glasses and salute the Chicago Bears for putting in another year of hard work. Here are the top ten moments of the 2014 season.
10. Chris Williams returns a kickoff 101 yards against the Packers in Week 10 to pull the Bears to within 60 in the fourth quarter . . .
. . . huh?
There are three more games?
[Walks away from keyboard to get gin]
Meet The Press Pt. 1
Thanks to the Cowboys epic fourth quarter phone-in, the Bears nearly made a game of it in the closing minutes - before remembering that making the playoffs means that you have to work at least an extra two weeks.
Upon reaching this epiphany, Jay Cutler took matters into his own hands and heaved a game-ending pick.
When asked about the team's overall flat performance, Bears head coach Marc Trestman summarily dismissed the notion that his squad had quit on the game, the season, and possibly life in the case of Josh Morgan, who was last seen gazing absently at a barren section of the locker room wall sharpening a barber's blade, while wearing nothing but a jock strap.
"This team competes hard every day to get better, and it competes hard in the football game," Trestman told ESPN.com. "That would be totally disrespecting our football team to think they're not going out and competing as hard as they can."
ESPN Chicago Bears beat reporter Michael C. Wright asked for clarification. "You're saying that the team is competing as hard as they can . . . at football?"
Trestman shifted uncomfortably.
"I mean, well, uh, yeah . . . " muttered the coach as his mind returned to the scene he encountered upon his arrival at Halas Hall last Thursday morning.
"Yeah. They were . . . focused . . . focused on . . . the Cowboys."
It's Five O'Clock Somewhere - Eleven Hours Earlier
Just before 10 a.m. last Thursday, Marc Trestman walked into Halas Hall, a facility which he had departed only five hours ago.
At some point after most of the hookers had split, a heated Pai Gow tournament must have broken out.
A poker table was set up at the 50-yard line of the indoor field.
Three practice squad players and Tim Jennings were passed out in folding chairs that surrounded the table, which was piled high with strange looking dominos, heaps of cocaine and a severed human finger.
A shirtless Lance Briggs lay on his back at the 45 snoring loudly, still clutching what appeared to be most of a pulled pork hoagie. "Christ, I hope that's barbeque sauce," Trestman silently wished as he examined the sticky maroon substance splattered across the linebacker's bare chest.
The scene continued like this for another 25 yards.
Kyle Long had pulled a mattress onto the field and was sleeping peacefully next to it wearing only one sock.
There was a strong possibility that the floozy clad only in a tube top had pushed him off it during the early morning hours.
David Bass could be found curled up on one of the sideline benches under a newspaper blanket, a cigarette with four inches of ash still hanging from his mouth.
Jimmy Clausen was sleepwalking; repeatedly muttering "Send your answer to Old Pink" while repeatedly bumping face first into the wall.
Stephen Paea was reading a book. "Hi coach!" he waived exuberantly as Trestman approached him.
"Good morning, Paea," said the coach. "You seem ready for the day." Trestman removed his Bears cap and scratched his head, visibly perplexed by this anomaly.
"Sure am coach! I'm glad to see you made it home safe last night!" The defensive end was incredibly upbeat.
"Thank you for the kind thoughts, but I slept in the car. There was no way I could drive. What did we finish . . . " Trestman began counting on his fingers. "Like, three handles of Captain Morgan apiece? Cindy would have tanned my hide if I rolled in stinking of rum and covered in glitter." He shook his head briefly and turned his attention back to Paea. "Did you, um, turn in earlier than the rest of us?"
"No sir! Been ready for kickoff all night!" Paea stood up abruptly and saluted; an eight-ball worth of cocaine spilled from inside the book.
"Ah," said the coach as this too snapped into place. "Carry on, son."
Trestman made his way into the coach's offices and encountered coordinators Aaron Kromer and Mel Tucker playing Xbox. Both had a plate of stale nachos on their lap.
"Um, guys . . . "
Both coordinators continued to stare vacantly at their co-op game.
Startled, both men hurriedly looked up from the game, nachos spilling everywhere.
"BURP!" said Kromer, a sliced jalapeno projectile emerging from his mouth.
"Yeah. Good morning to you too, Aaron." Trestman removed his cap and scratched his again. "How's that game plan coming?"
After rummaging around on his person for 10 seconds, Kromer produced a crumpled piece of buck slip paper from one of the leg pockets his cargo and presented it to the head coach.
"This looks like it's about a quarter finished," said Trestman after glancing over the chicken scratch.
"That's true coach," said Kromer. "But I figure it's good for at least 28 points - which ought to be more than enough for most teams to win."
Tucker, the team's Defensive Coordinator, rolled his eyes.
"Screw you, man," he said, averting eye contact with Trestman.
"Easy guys, we're a team here. Mel, I'm sure you've got something for me. Give me the good news."
Continuing to look away, Tucker slowly raised a middle finger in Trestman's face and held it there.
"Business as usual, huh buddy?" said Trestman in a deadpan tone.
Tucker's finger did not move.
"Alright then. Thanks guys, see you on the field tonight. I'm going to see if Paea will cut me in."
Meet The Press Pt. 2
Trestman realized he had trailed off with a microphone in his face.
"Totally focused," he said, finishing his thought.
NFC Southbound And Down
Holy crap, this is an unprecedented match-up of underachievers.
Bringing a combined 10 wins to the table, the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints clash (read: haphazardly drool in each other's general direction) at the lakefront on Monday night, which leaves SOOOOOOO much time to ponder what a colossal turd this season has turned into.
Of course, Saints fans can offer some pain of their own.
While the Bears were expected to compete for the wild card, the Saints were expected to run away with the dirty/lazy/horrible South.
Expectations can certainly cap the highs and accentuate the lows. Here are some of the most notable low points from the Saints this year.
- Usually a masterful motivator, the 2014 pre-game chant's refrain of "suck cock like a champion*" not only confuses even Drew Brees's most open-minded teammates, but strikes his gay teammates as unnecessarily crass.
- Several members of the Saints starting offense print out inaccurate Mapquest directions and wait patiently at the "Colonel Ricki's Super Fun Dome" for three hours, causing them to miss most of the embarrassing Week 14 home loss to the Panthers at the Superdome.
- A Jimmy Graham touchdown celebration goes horribly wrong and Saints mascot Gumbo D. Dog is neutered.
Kool-Aid (2 of 5 - Bombay Sapphire Martini Straight Up With Blue Cheese Olives)
It's going to be tough to make things interesting from here on out, even with a mighty assist from our old friend Alcohol, but I've got some ideas.
My plan for this week is to dress up like Elvis Costello circa 2011, including prescription glasses.
Then I'm going to chain smoke American Spirits in one hand and drink a martini in the other while bumping into shit all around my house.
Hey boss, get ready for a super productive Tuesday out of the C-man.
I honestly don't think the Bears are going to totally fold, but I also think we can officially declare after 13 games of ineptitude that "stuck in second gear" is the nicest assessment we can come up with for this team.
The Saints indeed suck, but they've got something to play for, and other than performance bonuses and the side bets of the super wealthy, our Bears do not.
Saints 27, Bears 24
* Even if we hired the NCAA to define the seeding, I would still watch that tournament.
Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.