By Robert Zeglinski
There’s an old saying about anxiety before a major life event. If someone doesn’t feel a healthy dose of it before the spotlight comes on, they’re not prepared. They’re bound to fail. Realizing their inherent failure and becoming self-aware will happen no sooner than before they’re ready to launch. Being overwrought with the combination of stress and burdens of life hinders what people can accomplish. Most often, it has them crash before they begin a journey of relevant accomplishments. But the right amount, a notable but subtle nervousness, is what’s sitting in the driver’s seat of success. It gets the adrenaline pumping. It instills a sense of alertness and laser-eyed focus. It literally props someone up on their toes to spur into action. Circulation is sound and clear. Blood is pumping to every inch and crevasse of the body. When the conditions are just right, motivation and enthusiasm blossom out of this neurotic mental cocktail.
After this, it’s all downhill.
On Tuesday, during one of the Bears’ first training camp practices in Lake Forest this year, they saw their first sign of in-fighting, of a mutiny. The culprits were the veteran Prince Amukamara and hotshot Javon Wims. Perhaps the two friendliest, most civil players on a roster loaded with character and ambition involved in the first heated fracas of a proposed special season. An NFL Films director would take one look at this script and cackle like an overgrown bully. Even this is too dramatic, too ironic to put in any official documentation.
But unlike in the past when a fight would signify a segment of division and internal chaos, none of Tuesday’s boiled-over water seemed to matter to the Bears. Amukamara and Wims, and several representatives from both sides of the ball got their shots in at peak tension, and everyone moved on. No harm. No foul. Not another sentence or profanity uttered. The heat of the moment shined on their respective uneven patch of grass and it told them what their heart meant: it was nothing personal. There was no deeper meaning to glean. This was a recognition of old-fashioned football and maturity. A fit amount of rivalry between two brothers both somehow capable of issuing the nastiest of Indian burns and lobbing grotesque loogies on helpless siblings. But no one’s helpless here.
In every sense of the word, this was a battle of equals ramming at one another for the sake of competition. Most other situations in life would call for further evaluation at the sight of several reported heavy haymakers. Not here, where the neuralyzer of a tight-knit brotherhood acted far more quickly than expected.
“There wasn’t any incident. It was a tackling drill. That’s my brother,” said the wiped memory of Amukamara to the Chicago Sun-Times. “It wasn’t even an incident, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
Amukamara’s awfully convenient assessment of a situation where there were bare-handed punches thrown at a metal helmet is the explicit indicator these Bears are prepared for something monumental. They possess that requisite anxiety to succeed, to thrive through adversity, even when it must be manufactured on its own. Those butterflies deep in the pit of their stomach set to activate every fight-or-flight response in their nervous systems. Though, it’s not fight-or-flight in this case. It’s win at all costs and no comparative foil. August, even September feels as if it’s a rote exercise for this bunch. They understand the allure of what it means to be a Super Bowl contender and what it means to reach that transcendent level of play. Even if it’ll mean a few harmless fists cutting through the air, they want to get it over with. If nothing else, they’ve got to get the ball rolling.
Pressure is going to permeate through every aspect of this Bears season.
Coaches, players, scouts, and even fans won’t be able to walk 10 feet in public without the thought of Super Bowls, falling short, George Halas, kickers, and children’s fables concerning the holy year of 1985. Nothing about the 2019 Bears dictates living in the moment and being present for the gift, the present, of the present. Everything has to have a greater weight and inherent eloquence. Stay patient for the first winning streak of the campaign and the ensuing masses screaming “MIAMI” instead of bloody murder. Observe the transition of obsession over from mustaches and sweater vests to pullover hoodies, bald heads and visors in Arctic weather. Any score over a division rival or in the madness of the playoff push late season will be met with unreasonable queries. Appreciating one feat in one week is nothing now compared to the heights the Bears are expected to accomplish. They’re not pushing for Golden Globes. They’re nominated for every major Oscar and they’re not settling until every publishing outlet decries how they stole the show, and headlines, during the mind-numbing news cycles of the subsequent morning.
“What’s next?” and “That’s it?” otherwise known as the most common storylines set to ring true after every episode of this upcoming navy blue and orange saga. Save for a stroll straight into the shortest month of the year, February, disappointment can and will run riot without mercy. This riot comprehends the idea of saving its real, channeled heat for different-colored jerseys.
“It just shows that we’re ready to play someone else again this week and hit somebody else.”
That a fight this late in the process says little but a need for violence shows this outfit wants to have a definitive answer to every question of legacy.
Robert is an editor and writer. Follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.