PHOENIX — The Bears will indeed open their 100th season — and the NFL’s 100th season — at home against the Green Bay Packers, the league announced Monday at its annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore. NBC will televise the game, which will be played Sept. 5.
The curtain-lifting Thursday night Bears-Packers game had been rumored for months, with the NFL opting to highlight a historic rivalry over giving the slot to the reigning Super Bowl champions, as has traditionally been the case.
"As an organization, we are thrilled to be kicking off the 100th season of football in the NFL,” Bears chairman George McCaskey said. “As a charter franchise, we cannot think of a better way to begin our centennial season by hosting our longtime rival in prime time at Soldier Field.”
NFL Media COO Hans Schroeder said the league hoped to make the kickoff of the league’s 100th season something “unique and special,” and that the decision regarding the Bears-Packers game was made before the New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl in the last two decades (to put it another way: The league said Patriots fatigue was not a factor in bumping the defending champions off Thursday night).
Scheoder said settling on having Bears-Packers at Soldier Field was “a great way collectively to start the season.”
The Bears-Packers rivalry began to write an interesting chapter this month, when Adrian Amos signed a four-year deal with Green Bay and Ryan Pace moving to replace him with ex-Packer Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The pseudo-swap of safeties (Clinton-Dix was traded to Washington last season) sparked some intense debates between Packers and Bears fans on social media that surely will be re-ignited in this Thursday night opener. Amos, for his part, posted a classy goodbye to Chicago after signing with the Packers.
The Bears snapped a seven-game home losing streak to the Packers last December with a 24-17 win that sealed their first NFC North title since 2010.