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WEEK FIVE CRYSTAL BALL - THURSDAY: A Battle in DC
Washington, Chicago face off as NFL mourns the loss of Dick Butkus
My friends, football hearts are heavy tonight as we mourn the passing of the one and only Dick Butkus. The Chicago Bears legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer was 80 years old.
I never had the honor of meeting Mr. Butkus, but I was fortunate to spend my first season as a college player at his alma mater, the University of Illinois. There was a small shrine honoring the legendary linebacker outside of our locker room and it was an awesome sight.
Butkus came of age at a time when there was nothing more important than being physical and no player has ever been more intimidating to opponents, officials and, probably, his own teammates and coaches. That’s not opinion but a cold, hard fact that’s not open for debate.
I’ll write more in honor of Mr. Butkus this weekend and it’s my hope that both teams honor him with a physical battle tonight. Kickoff is at 8:15 pm ET on Amazon Prime with Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit in the booth.
Eerily, Washington and Chicago also played each other in DC in 1999 the day after legendary Bears running back Walter Payton passed away. I remember the game very well as I watched the 48-22 romp for the home team from the stands.
To this point, Washington (2-2) is head and shoulders above the winless Bears, who are in the midst of a franchise-record 14-game losing streak, including last week’s 31-28 loss to previously winless Denver. The Broncos scored 24 consecutive points in the last 19 minutes of the game.
This week, the team sent wide receiver Chase Claypool home for disciplinary reasons and their explanation of the situation was a bit opaque, bringing to mind this scene from “Spies Like Us”.
Clearly, the Bears are struggling in every way imaginable: offense, defense, special teams, and media relations. Still, Chicago’s coaches and players are professionals with pride, men capable of rising up with their backs against the wall.
Look for the Bears to lay it on the line for Mr. Butkus and make it close. I’ll call it 23-22, Commanders.*
Enjoy the game, God bless and RIP Dick Butkus.
*Last week’s 11-5 record moved the season mark to 42-22 (.656).