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You're with US now: Bears newbies talk Packers

September 12, 2012

RedEye asked several Bears who are new to the Packers rivalry what it means to them.

Armando Allen, running back (second NFL season, both with Bears)

We play them twice a year. Players treat it like every game, just with a little extra spunk. But you know, you want to do your best job in every game. So I think when you look at it like that, it calms things down for us because we try to do the same thing every game. We want to go out there and give it 100 percent no matter what opponent we're facing. For us it's just another day at work, trying to go out there and be perfect.

James Brown, offensive lineman (rookie)

Oh man, that's one of the longest rivalries known to man. It's one of the rivalries that started the NFL. It's just like Romeo and Juliet. The Capulets and the Montagues? It's like that. [Laughs.]

Gabe Carimi, offensive lineman (second NFL season, both with Bears. Born in Lake Forest, attended high school and college in Wisconsin)

I grew up in Wisconsin, so it does mean something to me. It's a good rivalry. Everyone respects it, so I'm excited to play for the Bears.

Blake Costanzo, linebacker (seventh NFL season, first with Bears)

I just know that we have to beat the Packers. That's the biggest thing up here. If we don't win the Super Bowl but we beat the Packers twice, we did all right for the season. That's how big it is up here.

Did you do all right from your expectations?

No, no, I'm saying from the fan expectations. [Laughs.]

You'd rather win the Super Bowl than beat Green Bay.

Yeah, of course! I'm just talking about the fans.

Isaiah Frey, cornerback (rookie. Father is a huge Bears fan. Childhood dogs were named Payton and Bear)

I know them from my dad. He hates them. I never understood why. You see them play all of these years when I was growing up. They had a lot of battles. And now that I'm here and I understand the rivalry, it's intense. Just knowing how many games they played and how many battles they went through, it's a pretty good history.

What's your dad saying to you this week?

We better come out with a win. [Laughs.] That's all he's saying. "You better win." That's the bottom line.

Geno Hayes, linebacker (fifth NFL season, first with Bears)

I know a lot about it. I always watched it. Always had a good time. I was coming up during that Brett Favre era, so I had a good time watching him play against the Bears, you know?

That was torturous.

Yeah, I know. [Laughs.]

Do players take it seriously in the historical sense along with the "they're the division champs" sense?

Some of us do, some of us don't. But it's the Green Bay Packers, you know? That's one of our biggest rivals, if not the biggest. I have to take it serious.

Sherrick McManis, cornerback (third NFL season, first with Bears. Grew up in Peoria, attended Northwestern)

All I know is that I want to beat 'em.

Why do you know that you have to beat them? Other than that they're on the schedule?

That's the only reason. They're another team on the schedule. Big rivalry. You know that even if you don't play for the Bears. Growing up here that's something I know. It's great to be back home and play for the home team. You're close to family, so family gets to see you play. It's exciting to be here.

Cheta Ozougwu, defensive end (second NFL season, first with Bears)

From what Lovie and all the guys told me, obviously we know it's the longest rivalry in the history of the NFL. There's a lot of competitiveness. They've got us the last two games [editor's note: it's actually the past four games] so we're definitely looking to get back at them.

Obviously you care about beating Green Bay—they're the defending division champs. Do you care about beating Green Bay for any historical fan related reason?

I'm a Bear now. The history the Bears had in the past I'm taking on now, so that means a lot to me. So yeah, most definitely. It means a lot.

Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. Say hey @readjack.


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