CHICAGO — Waking up Sunday morning in Chicago to five inches of snow and Dick Butkus trolling Aaron Rodgers was a beautiful thing.
“funny the orange juice tastes a little bit sweeter this morning,” Butkus tweeted, referring to the Green Bay Packers’ 13-10 playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
And in case that tweet was too cryptic, Butkus followed it up with: “maybe its me but it almost seemed like @AaronRodgers12 was distracted last night like someone was in his head.”
The Chicago Bears great, naturally, was referring to himself.
Two days earlier Butkus, celebrated being verified on Twitter — a long-running saga in which Butkus poked fun at the social media company for not recognizing him as being blue checkmark-worthy. When Butkus finally was accepted, he sent out another punctually-challenged tweet: “now that i have the blue mark i can kick people off the platfrom right you hear me @AaronRodgers”
Seeing the Hall of Fame linebacker trolling the future Hall of Fame quarterback for the Packers may have been the highlight of the season for Bears fans, who’ve watched Rodgers beat their team year after year and then proclaim after a 2021 win in Soldier Field he “owns” them.
While Chairman George McCaskey and his wolf pack continue their exhaustive search process for a new general manager and coach — one that undoubtedly will leave no stone unturned — the stunning end to the Packers’ season on a snowy night at Lambeau Field was a small bit of cold comfort to weary Bears fans watching at home from their comfy chairs or couches.
And the man who put the nail in the Packers’ coffin was none other than Robbie Gould, the one kicker over the years who seemed oblivious to playing winter football along the lakefront. It’s been many years since the Bears decided Gould’s career was over, yet he keeps on ticking ... and kicking. He was perfect again Saturday, and still has never missed a kick in the postseason.
Gould remains quite popular in Chicago, so his presence was one more reason for Bears fans to root for the 49ers. Ex-teammate Lance Briggs tweeted beforehand: “Just so we’re all on the same page, you’re all rooting for @49ers right?”
The response was near unanimous. After Gould made the game-winning kick, Briggs tweeted: “.@RobbieGould09 did it for Chicago !!”
Schadenfreude was everywhere on social media after the Packers were bounced, particularly in Chicago. Former Bear Olin Kreutz tweeted a GIF of Tony Soprano smoking a cigar.
Enough said. Troll down, Chicago Bears.
Memes featuring a half-masked Rodgers getting sacked were widespread, and many social media users believed they were the first to joke that Rodgers had received “natural immunity” from playing in the Super Bowl.
It seemed like Bears fans and former players were all in on the Rodgers-bashing, perhaps with the exception of former linebacker Brian Urlacher, whose latest tweet was a promo about his new hair — which looks very natural and not at all fake.
And as happy as many were to see the Packers — and Rodgers — go down in flames, it seemed only fitting Gould would be the one to do it. NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales tweeted a video of Gould walking down the sidelines after the game-winning kick and being called a “(bleeping) legend” by quarterback Jimmy Garappolo, who added: “(Bleep) the Packers.”
It was a great moment in Bears karma, ranking just a few notches under the 1985 NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field when it started snowing as Wilber Marshall scooped up Dieter Brock’s fumble and returned it for a touchdown on the way to the Super Bowl. A reporter suggested afterward that he snow was heavenly sent by “Papa Bear,” the late owner George Halas. Coach Mike Ditka replied that Papa Bear sent “the sunshine, the snow, the touchdowns, everything.”
And besides being a fine kicker, Gould is just an all-around good guy.
He recently spoke to the Tribune about the life of ESPN reporter Jeff Dickerson, who died of cancer on Dec. 30. The two remained friends after Gould left the organization, and the 49ers star spoke eloquently about what Dickerson meant to him and others.
“You’re going to see a lot of people come together and they’re going to laugh and shine some of that positive light on each other during a very difficult time,” Gould said.
And there Gould was on a cold, snowy night in Green Bay, sending Rodgers and the Packers packing on the legendary frozen tundra. That’s some positive light indeed.
It wasn’t the Super Bowl for Bears fans. But for now, it’ll have to do.
Take a look at Super Bowl's close shaves and near misses
Super Bowl V: Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
Super Bowl X: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
Super Bowl XVI: San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21
Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16
Super Bowl XXV: New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
Super Bowl XXXII: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
Super Bowl XXXVI: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
Super Bowl XXXVIII: New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
Super Bowl XXXIX: New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21
Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
Super Bowl XLVI: New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17
Super Bowl XLVII: Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31
Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24
Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28
Super Bowl LII: Philadelphia Eagles 41, New England Patriots 33
Super Bowl LIII: New England Patriots 13, Los Angeles Rams 3
Von Miller's presence was apparent while making his practice debut with his new team, the Buffalo Bills. Miller looked at home after previously acknowledging he was torn in leaving the Super Bowl champion Rams and the bright lights of Los Angeles for Buffalo. Miller spent his first practice grooving to music on the sideline, providing tips to his younger teammates while also bursting off the line to collapse the pocket in the non-padded sessions. The two-time defending AFC East champion Bills made a major splash by signing Miller to a six-year contract in March to add muscle to what had been a middling pass rush.
The Atlanta Falcons have signed inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski to a one-year contract. Kwiatkoski has played in 77 career games with 34 starts in six seasons with the Chicago Bears and Las Vegas Raiders. He appeared in eight games for the Raiders in 2021, totaling 21 tackles with one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. The Falcons also added wide receiver Geronimo Allison to the roster. He had 89 receptions for 1,045 yards and six touchdowns in 49 games, including 14 starts, over five seasons with the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.
Personnel, position change and even weight loss have been some of the changes to affect the Chicago Bears defense since the start of spring work in organized team activities during coach Matt Eberflus' first season. The switch to a 4-3 defense from a 3-4 meant some players switched positions, such as linebacker Roquan Smith. New players such as linebacker Nicholas Morrow, rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon and rookie safety Jaquan Brisker are getting extensive looks with the first team. All the while, the Bears are without veteran defensive ends Robert Quinn and Al-Quadin Muhammad, who have opted not to participate in voluntary offseason work.
Jordan Love acknowledges having mixed emotions when he learned Aaron Rodgers was returning for an 18th season with the Green Bay Packers. Love said he was “super happy” for his teammate while realizing that it likely meant at least another year of watching from the sideline. Love gets to experience a small taste of what it’s like to be a starting quarterback for now. Love is getting the majority of first-team reps with Rodgers among several notable Packers veterans sitting out voluntary organized team activities this week.
A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press the Washington Commanders have procured land in Virginia for what could be a potential site of the NFL team’s next stadium. The Commanders agreed to pay approximately $100 million for 200 acres of land in Prince William County and are still considering other locations in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The Commanders’ lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, expires in 2027. Owner Dan Snyder and Co. have been looking at potential sites in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
Marcus Mariota already has shown he's willing to serve as a mentor for Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder. Mariota also says he's hungry to beat out Ridder and earn the job as the Falcons starting quarterback. Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and the Tennessee Titans' starter, has been a backup the past three seasons. He has an opportunity to revive his career as the successor to Falcons' 14-year starter Matt Ryan, who was traded to Indianapolis. Mariota says he is enjoying his reunion with Falcons second-year coach Arthur Smith, the Titans’ former offensive coordinator.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Pittsburgh Steelers began organized team activities with uncertainty at quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger retired in January after 18 seasons. The team signed Mitch Trubisky and drafted Kenny Pickett to compete with Mason Rudolph for the starting job. Coach Mike Tomlin says he's not worried about creating an early pecking order at the position and that OTAs are designed to simply provide a foundation the team can build on when training camp opens in July.
In this photo from May 1, 2015, Dick Butkus acknowledges fans before announcing the second-round draft pick for the Bears during the 2015 NFL draft at the Auditorium Theatre. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS)