Every team in the NFL has players that fans both love and hate. Today we take a look at the 2012 Chicago Bears.
The Bears have had a history of very polarizing players that have both divided and united fans in the windy city.
When it comes to players that are most loved when it comes to the Bears' Gale Sayers, Walter Payton, and Mike Ditka come to mind.
On the other side of the pendulum you have players that fans have run out of the city. Rex Grossman, Cade McNown, and Curtis Enis come to mind.
I have polled many Bears fans to find out where they stand when it comes to the most beloved and hated Bears on the current roster.
I was given a variety of answers when it came to the most beloved Bears ranging from Jay Cutler to Matt Forte to Brian Urlacher.
I was surprised to find that not many Bears fans have a hated player and only a few names came up and none of which were names I had considered when answering this question myself.
Far and away the most beloved Bear is Brian Urlacher. Though he is currently injured there is so much love for Urlacher in the Windy City that the conversation continues to revolve around the middle linebacker. Last Saturday night a completely different Bears offense than fans are used to came out and lit up the Redskins' defense, yet on Monday the biggest topic of discussion was about Urlacher's injury and timetable for a return.
While the male Chicago fans love Urlacher for what he brings to the field and the ferocity of which he plays the game, the female fans are in love with his looks and physique. When one female Bear fan recently discovered that Urlacher and Jenny McCarthy had split said, "Hello, I will let him know I am available if he needs a shoulder to cry on."
Typically you do not see a player like that, that unites both male and female fans though for very different reasons.
Urlacher endeared himself to local fans almost immediately with his play on the field along with some humility off the field early on in his career. There were many comparisons between Urlacher and former Bears middle linebackers and Hall of Famers Dick Butkus, and Mike Singletary.
Urlacher refused to compare himself and often told fans and reporters he had a long way to go to catch up to them. Bears fans immediately took a liking to Urlacher with those comments.
While most Bears fans I spoke to had a hard time coming up with a player they hated, there was one name that came up a few times that truly surprised me -- Lance Briggs. Despite the fact that Briggs has been one of the most consistent players on the Bears' defense since being drafted in 2003. While Briggs has been a force on the field for the Bears, he has been a polarizing figure off the field.
Briggs has been very vocal when it comes to his contract situation. Whether it was in 2007 when the Bears franchised Briggs, or last offseason when three years into a six-year deal wanted a new contract.
In the 2008 offseason Briggs signed a front-loaded six-year deal, and when hitting the lower end of the contract suddenly was no longer happy. Briggs even at one point just before the start of the 2011 season requested a trade from the Bears.
A holdout and trade demand is not good in any city, much less one that prides itself on hard work and commitment like Chicago to turn the fans against you. Briggs never was traded and continued to play at a high-octane level, making his 7th consecutive Pro Bowl in 2011.
However the damage is done to Briggs' reputation thanks to two separate situations of whining about his contract. Though it is not heavily talked about on local sports talk radio, or written about in the newspapers fans are very leery when it comes to the star outside linebacker. Bears fans main comment when discussing Briggs was, "I love Lance Briggs on Sunday, but am so tired of hearing him complain about money all the time."
It is funny that the two players that Bears fans love and dislike the most are two of the defense's biggest stars playing right next to each other. These two also seem to be very close as well off the field.
Ether way when these guys play on Sundays Chicago cheers, and cheers loud for both of these superstars. It just goes to show that it is not only the play on the field, but actions off the field that ether endear you to the fans or have the fans loathing you.