On the latest episode of the Under Center podcast, NBC Sports soccer analysts Arlo White and Roger Bennett joined in to talk all things Bears. It's a fascinating conversation, and you can check out the entire episode right here.
Among many of the topics they touched on, both offered predictions for tonight's Bears-Vikings matchups. Here's what they said:
This is pre-internet and pre-cable television in England. In order to follow the games, we had a new channel setup called Channel 4. And they would carry — they were looking around for sort of cheaper sports rights — and they would carry a one-hour highlight show on Sunday tea time. And it would be highlights from the previous week. So unless — I think I was banned from that point from calling my Aunt Kath and Uncle Bill because it cost too much, my dad was suddenly getting these huge phone bills as I was calling them to get the Bears results. And we watched this highlight show, and then the Super Bowl itself would be on live. That was the one live game we’d get each year, and I’d have to persuade my dad to let me stay up night on a school night, Sunday night, to watch that game. And I did find out toward the end fo the 1980s that there was an armed forces radio and television service for the American GIs and service personnel and their families that broadcast out of Germany. And on a good signal night, it’s a long ways, you could pick up the NFL games on a Sunday night. And that was like the most incredible revelation that I’d ever come across at that point. So you were actually listening to the games live. But the frustrating thing would be, you would have the Bears maybe kicking a game-winning, potential game-winning, field goal with Kevin Butler, and then just the point where the ball was in the air with five seconds to go, you’d lose the signal and it’d be replaced with Belgian flute music from the continent. And then you’d have to wait another week to find out the score — it was incredible. You had to be very dedicated to be an NFL fan back in those days.
What I love about this team, and it speaks to Matt Nagy’s energy, is when they win a game and you see them, they turn the locker room into a nightclub, it seems. It’s not necessarily the sort of music I will rush out and download myself, but they all seem to be having such a great time. There seems to be a great spirit in that camp.
Ryan Pace seems to have got the formula right this season. They appear to be getting better and better. And all these names that kind of trip off the tongue now like a Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, Trevathan — that linebacking corps looks fantastic — and then Mitch, Tarik Cohen, Jordan Howard, the wide receiver corps as well, just fantastic. They’re so much fun to watch and let’s see where it leads.
Well, a prediction is I will probably drink nine cups of coffee to keep myself awake until about 4 a.m. I’m feeling good. This is a big test, and then they have to back it up on Thanksgiving day against Detroit. So it’s a tough period now being flexed into the Sunday Night Football. But it’s great that the Bears are relevant again and are in demand. It’s in a way, if you want to be successful, you gotta back up, do a Sunday Night Football and then a Thursday in Detroit. I think they can do it and I’m predicting a 10-point victory for the Bears against the rival Vikings. And this would really give us the stranglehold on the NFC North, and let’s see where we can take it. Because on our day, we’re only getting better, and on our day I feel right now we can beat anybody. Let’s see where we go, but this is a real statement performance for the Bears coming up on Sunday. Bears by 10.
These were the days before Internet, which many of your listeners will not be able to conceive of or imagine. So it was incredibly hard to follow the Chicago Bears. There was this one show, for an hour, with all of the highlights of the games of the week just compressed a week later. I started to write to people in Chicago and they’d occasionally send me over on huge clunky VHS video tapes games from weeks earlier which would just astound — I loved the commercials … I was mesmerized by everything that I saw. There was no internet, there was no newspaper coverage, it didn’t exist. So you could either listen to Armed Forces Network, which was an amazing experience, a wonderful station, that would fade — it had the worst signal for radio I’ve ever heard — it would just fade in and out, it was agonizing. Always when the Bears drove into the red zone, the signal would just disappear and you would have to wait five minutes to agonizingly try to re-find the thing to see if they scored or not. So I did what any rational person would do, JJ, with my other friend who loved the NFL as much as I did, Jamie, we would during Bears game days just phone random 312 numbers from his house and people would pick up the phone unsuspectingly. They would be like, ‘hello?’ and we would be like ‘hello, how are the Bears doing?’ And God love the people of Chicago, the biggest-hearted people in the world, and many of your listeners may realize it was me on the end of the phone 20 years ago. They would be like ‘they’re up 21-7! And they just got a first down and 10’ and they would commentate for us as long as we could keep them on the phone, and then they would probably a beer would be calling their name and they would hang up. But random people in Chicago on the end of the telephone, back when telephone bills were real telephone bills and the charges we rang up were enormous, but that’s what it took to follow the Bears back in the day and that’s what we did.
That is a great question. It depends who’s starting for the Vikings — I’m hoping it’s going to be either Wade Wilson or Tommy Kramer. So if it’s one of those, we’re definitely going to score in the 40s. I’m guessing it’ll be, I think it’s going to be 27-3. How’s that? (Arlo only said a 10-point Bears win) He’s lacking — I just saw him last week in London, we filmed a television special with him, and I asked him where he is out of 10 in terms of the Bears. And I said, you know, you and I are going to a Super Bowl this year, and we are going to watch the Bears bloody win it. And he looked at me, and he’s like, really? And I said, we’re going to see the Bears bloody — I did a show in Atlanta, and I had Kevin Butler come to the show, and I had a beer with Kevin Butler and re-lived my memories and thanked him for everything he’s brought to my life and those Bears. And I want so badly for my kids, for all of you in Chicago, to experience what we went through in the 80s. So I said to Arlo, we’re going. We’re definitely going. I’d love to commentate with Arlo, to be candid. That’s my true dream to commentate on a Bears Super Bowl victory in an alternate commentary where it’s me and Arlo just going for it. I said, where are you, Arlo? And he said I’m about a 7.5, maybe an 8. And he goes where are you? And I said I’m an 11. And here’s why I’m 11 out of 10 on the Bears are going to win the Super Bowl. Every single year we win the Super Bowl, we always lose to Miami. That is the reason why I am so seemingly confident about how this season is going to end up. I’m all in.