One of former Bear Nathan Vasher's proudest moments in the Green Bay… (Jim Prisching/Chicago…)
After a 7-1 start, the Bears are now a game behind the division-leading Packers, who come to town Sunday. Among those who see Sunday's game as a must-win are former Bears Jason McKie and Nathan Vasher, who stay involved in the Chicago sports community via "The J-Mack & Nate Vash Show," which they co-host on chicagolandsportsradio.com from noon-2 p.m. Mondays and Fridays. RedEye sat down with the ex-Bears to talk about the Bears-Packers rivalry.
What does the Bears-Packers rivalry mean to you?
Jason McKie: I already knew about the Bears-Packers rivalry just from growing up as a football fan. So I already knew what it meant. But I think my first time playing in this rivalry was at Lambeau Field, and just going there and stepping on that field was a surreal moment. Going from watching it on TV to actually being a part of it, it's a big thing.
Nathan Vasher: I grew up also watching the Bears play against Green Bay and Brett Favre, Antonio Freeman, all those good guys. But for me it's when I actually got here and saw what attention to detail, especially being at work, how big it is just for the organization and what it means.
And even just walking around in the streets, going to the grocery store in my neighborhood, and seeing how important it is to the fans, you know? They live and die by Bears-Pack. Here in Chicago, they love football just as much as my home state of Texas. So it's a big deal, and I want to go out, when I did play, and have my biggest game there because it's the biggest stage.
Favorite personal Bears-Packers memory?
JM: Man, that's an easy one. Back in our Super Bowl year, we went to Green Bay, I think it was the first game of the season. Beat them 26 to zero at Lambeau Field. That's a testament to our defense that Nate Vash was a part of. They gave them that goose egg up there. And we played well offensively.
NV: I would have to say clinching the division there [in the second Packers game of 2005], and being able to wear those T-shirts, wear those hats, in Lambeau Field, was an amazing feeling. I had an opportunity to get an interception off of Brett Favre [in the first Packers game of 2005] and take one to the house here in Chicago, and win a game here too. But being able to wear that division hat and clinch it at their place, that's it.
Favorite Bears-Packers fan story?
JM: Mine's funny, because my neighbors are actually Packers fans. And a great neighbor at that. He'd always say, "I want you to do good, I just don't want you to beat my Pack." They would decorate my mailbox with Green Bay Packers stuff, but when we get a win, we come back and he would have some cookies on the doorstep saying, "Congrats, you beat my Packers team."
NV: I remember playing here in Chicago when we had a streaker during the Green Bay game.
What year was that?
NV: I don't know. But one of the fans jumped out here at Soldier Field …
But wait, '05, '06, '07 and '08, it was freezing at Soldier Field for all those games.
NV: [Laughs.] Yeah! So it's just for the fans, because we know how important it is for them. And then driving up to Lambeau, you see this big beautiful stadium right in the middle of this small neighborhood. And you got 60-year-old ladies giving you the finger. That's it in a nutshell right there.
Picks for this Sunday?
NV: Bears win at home.
JM: I'm gonna say 27-24, Bears. You always gotta go with the Bears at Soldier Field. Now if it was at Lambeau—and we've seen them already play—but if it was at Lambeau, [coughs], Bears fans might be mad at me, because I'd have to take the Pack, but I'm taking the Bears at home.
Special contributor Jack M Silverstein covers the Bears for RedEye. Say hey @readjack.
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