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5 things all Chicago sports fans can be thankful for

By
Jonathan Samples
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The Chicago Bears are 2-7, someone named Matt Barkley is likely the team’s new starting quarterback and Cubs fans are beginning to come down from their World Series high. Throw in some Bulls apathy and a little seasonal affective disorder, and it’s easy to feel like the the city’s sports gods have abandoned their respective fandoms in favor of wintering in Florida.

But it’s not all bad, Chicago; there’s still plenty to cheer about (like having your Sundays free again). The four months between now and Cubs spring training will certainly have their ups and downs, but let us talk you off the ledge with our list of the things every Chicago sports fans should be most thankful for.

Bears are bad, but so are the Packers
The Bears have been bad for a while. The last time the team finished the season with a winning record (10-6) was, coincidentally, Lovie Smith’s last year as head coach. That was 2012, and the Bears’ playoff drought goes back even farther to 2010, when the team lost the NFC Championship to the Green Bay Packers (14-21). Green Bay went on to win the Super Bowl that year, and since then my beloved Cheese Heads (that’s right, this writer bleeds green and yellow) have made it to the playoffs every season, including four first-place finishes in the NFC North division (#GoPackGo).

But, winter is coming to Packerland, and no one (save for Jon Snow) seems capable of righting the ship. Misery loves company, Bears fans, and things are quite miserable in Green Bay. The team has lost four games in a row and appears on track to miss the playoffs for the first time in seven years. So, get your hate on, Chicago, because it’s the Pack’s turn to disappoint (smdh).

Blackhawks continue to carry mettle
Through their first 20 games, the Chicago Blackhawks have a record of 13-5-2 and currently hold the top spot in the Western Conference with 28 points. The team has been so dominant over the past eight seasons (making the playoffs each year and winning three Stanley Cup Championships) that it’s easy to forget what life was like before Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (best not to dwell on it). The Blackhawks have picked up right where they left off last season, and whether you’re a lifelong hockey fan or you think “face off” is just the name of one of Nic Cage’s better movies, you owe it to yourself to enjoy the historic run Chicago’s hockey team is on.

Butler is a beast!
No one tell Derrick Rose, but he’s been replaced. Jimmy Butler, the hard-working defensive specialist picked late in the first round of the 2011 draft, has continued his ascent to superstardom, starting the 2016-17 season like gangbusters (cue the MVP talk). Through 15 games, the two-time All-Star is averaging 25.8 points per game (10th best in the league), 6.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and is shooting a career-best 42.3 percent from 3-point range, according to ESPN statistics. And although the Bulls’ record (9-6) isn’t anything to write home about, Butler’s stellar play is more than enough to put basketball back on your winter sports radar.

Bryant keeping baseball alive and well
More than two weeks after winning the 2016 World Series, the Chicago Cubs (and Cubs fans) got some more good news. Third baseman Kris Bryant was named the National League MVP, receiving a near unanimous vote by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. What’s making Cubs fans so giddy, however, is that Bryant is the only player to win the Golden Spikes Award (top collegiate player), Minor League Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and be named an MLB MVP in four consecutive seasons. Bryant’s unprecedented award streak is just one more accolade for a Cubs team that looks poised to keep its fans openly jubilant (and White Sox fans hopelessly annoyed) for years to come.

Jay Cutler might be out…for keeps
Many Chicago sports writers have already begun penning Jay Cutler’s football eulogy. The 33-year-old quarterback is expected to miss the last six games of the season after suffering a shoulder injury in last week’s loss to the New York Giants. And while Chicago Bears’ ownership is busy pondering tough questions (like “what is football” and “how do we get good at it”), the 11-year veteran appears ready to move on from Soldier Field after eight seasons with the team.

The often aloof quarterback has had a complicated relationship with fans of the team. When Cutler (and his RBF) came down from the mountain, his detractors quickly settled into scapegoating the former Denver Bronco for everything from not playing through a torn MCL to banishing the lovable Lovie to Tampa Bay. Others have defended Cutler, saying bad management, bad coaches and bad players are to blame for the Bears’ woes. But no matter what you think of Cutty, we can all breathe easier as soon as he and his unvaccinated children relocate to San Francisco. 

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