Before Brett Favre arrived in Green Bay in 1992, the series between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, which first started in 1921, was lopsided.
The Bears held a commanding 79-58-6 series lead over the Packers going into the 1992 season.
That was the record then, even with Vince Lombardi as head coach of the Packers, when he was going up against George Halas from 1959 through 1967. During his tenure, Lombardi’s Packers were 13-5 versus “Papa Bear” and da Bears.
The Packers also won five NFL championships under Lombardi, which included the first two Super Bowls. Halas and his Bears also won a NFL title in that era, as Chicago won it all in 1963.
The Lombardi era certainly helped the Packers to gain some ground in the series against the Bears.
The MVP of Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II was Bart Starr. Starr had some great moments against the Bears and was 12-3 against Chicago with Lombardi as his head coach. In all, No. 15 was 15-5 in his career versus da Bears as a starter.
And it was against the Bears that Starr showed Lombardi and his teammates in 1960 (when Starr was splitting time with Lamar McHan at QB) that he was the man to lead them to greatness at quarterback.
Jerry Kramer related that story to me in one of our many conversations.
“We were playing the Chicago Bears,” Kramer said. “Bill George was their middle linebacker at the time. On a deep pass attempt, George thought he would try to intimidate Bart.
“Bill took about a five-yard run and he gave Bart a forearm right in the mouth. George timed it perfectly and put Bart right on his behind. He also cut Bart badly, from his lip all the way to his nose. After that, George said, ‘That ought to take care of you Starr, you pu**y.’ Bart snapped right back at George and said, ‘F— you, Bill George, we’re coming after you.’
“My jaw dropped after that exchange, as I was shocked. Meanwhile Bart was bleeding profusely. I told Bart that he better go to the sideline and get sewn up. Bart replied, ‘Shut up and get in the huddle.’
“Bart took us down the field in seven or eight plays and we scored. That series of plays really solidified Bart as our leader and we never looked back.”
In all, Starr was also the NFL MVP in 1966, plus was 94-57-6 as a starting quarterback with the Packers. In addition to that, No. 15 was an amazing 9-1 in the postseason, which included five NFL championships (including three titles in a row) and victories in the first two Super Bowls.
Still, before the arrival of Favre, the Packers chances of ever catching the Bears in their series seemed very remote. But in 16 years in Green Bay, Favre had a 22-10 record against Chicago.
Overall, Favre had a fantastic career in Green Bay, as he had 160 wins over 16 seasons, with 96 of those wins occurring at Lambeau Field (.762 winning percentage).
The former Southern Miss gunslinger also started 253 straight games (275 including the postseason) for the Pack in his career, plus Green Bay won the NFC Central/North seven times.
Favre also threw 442 touchdown passes for 61,655 yards while he was a Packer and also won three straight NFL MVP awards in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
And like it was with Starr, the Packers were regulars in the postseason under Favre, as the Packers went there 11 times under Favre.
The biggest prize of them all was the victory in Super Bowl XXXI.
Favre’s most memorable win against the Bears had to be on Halloween night at Soldier Field in 1994. That was the night that the Bears were retiring the jerseys of both Dick Butkus (No.51) and Gale Sayers (No. 40), plus both Green Bay and Chicago were wearing their throwback jerseys.
It was a scary night weather-wise, as the temperature was in the low 40s on a very windy and rainy night. It was raining sideways for awhile as a matter of fact. Favre didn’t have his best night throwing in those conditions, even with his strong arm, but he did throw for 82 yards and one touchdown, without throwing a pick.
It was Favre’s legs that made the difference in the game though, as he rushed for 58 yards on just two carries, including a memorable 36-yard touchdown scamper. The Packers as a team ran for 223 yards, which was very Lombardi-like.
But in his career, Favre always seemed to throw well against Chicago. In 1995, playing with a heavily-wrapped ankle, Favre threw five touchdown passes against the Bears in a 35-28 win at Lambeau Field.
In 1993 at Soldier Field, Favre threw for 402 yards, which was the first and only time he threw for 400 yards in his Green Bay career. It was also at Soldier Field in 1995, when Favre completed a 99-yard touchdown pass to Robert Brooks in a 27-24 victory.
Aaron Rodgers took over for Favre in 2008 and he has truly been a Bear-killer, as he has a 16-4 record against Chicago in the regular season, plus beat da Bears at Soldier Field in the 2010 NFC title game.
The numbers that Rodgers has put up against Chicago have just been amazing. In 20 regular season games against the Bears, Rodgers has thrown 45 touchdown passes versus just nine interceptions for 4,882 yards. That adds up to a very robust passer rating of 108.3.
The first game of the 2018 season against Chicago on Sunday night at Lambeau Field added more to his legend against the Monsters of the Midway. In that game, Rodgers suffered a knee sprain that saw the quarterback leave the field on a cart in the second quarter.
But No. 12 returned in the second half, basically playing on one leg. And what a performance he put on! The Packers were down 20-3 , when Rodgers brought the Packers back.
Rodgers threw three touchdown passes without a pick in a stirring comeback as the Packers won 24-23.
As great as that game was for Rodgers, he has beaten the Bears in even more dramatic fashion.
Like in the season finale in 2013 at Soldier Field, when the winner of that game would be NFC North champs.
Rodgers had missed seven games due that year to a broken collarbone, which ironically occurred when the Packers played the Bears at Lambeau Field in Week 9.
In that game, Rodgers appeared to be a bit rusty due to his layoff, but No. 12 still threw for 315 yards with two touchdown passes versus two picks.
But the second touchdown he threw in that game was one that will live on in Green Bay lore. With 46 seconds to go in the game and with the Packers trailing the Bears 28-27, Rodgers and the Packers faced a fourth-and-8 scenario.
In the moment of truth, Rodgers first avoided being sacked by Julius Peppers by sprinting to his left and getting a chip-block by fullback John Kuhn. Rodgers then delivered a 48-yard touchdown pass on the move to wide receiver Randall Cobb, as the Packers won 33-28.
In his career, Rodgers has followed in Favre’s footsteps quite well, as he is on his way to breaking some of the tremendous records that No. 4 set in Green Bay.
Rodgers is 98-55-1 as a starter, plus has thrown 336 touchdown passes versus just 79 picks for 42,202 yards. No QB in NFL history has ever thrown for a 4-1 ratio for TD passes vs. picks like Rodgers has. Add to that, Rodgers is the highest rated passer in NFL history, with a 103.4 mark.
Rodgers has also won the NFL MVP award twice (2011 and 2014).
And like Starr and Favre, Rodgers has led his team to the playoffs several times, as he has done it nine times, including eight seasons in a row.
In fact, like Starr did twice, Rodgers was the MVP of Super Bowl XLV, as the Packers beat the Steelers 31-25.
Rodgers can perhaps make it to the postseason for the 10th time this year, but the Packers will need to win their last three games of the year, starting with Sunday’s game against the Bears.
The Packers will also need some good fortune to get in if they do that, but the odds have gotten better as of late.
The Packers need the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins to lose one of their last three games to pass all three of those teams in the Wild Card race. That has a decent chance of happening, perhaps even this weekend.
The Eagles have to go out to Los Angeles to play the Rams, while the Panthers will host the New Orleans Saints and finally the Redskins have to travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars.
If those three teams lose just one game, then the Packers would need one more set of odd circumstances to occur. They need the Minnesota Vikings to lose two out of their last three games.
The Vikings have lost three out of their last four games, with their lone victory coming against the Packers in Minneapolis. So, you just never know.
But all of that will be a moot point, unless the Packers can take care of the Bears.
The good news is that the Green Bay offense looked much more in rhythm last Sunday under new head coach Joe Philbin than it did under Mike McCarthy most of this season.
That needs to happen again this Sunday at Soldier Field, plus the defense and special teams need to do their jobs as well.
Bottom line, based on the track record of Rodgers against Chicago, I wouldn’t bet against No. 12 in pulling off another dramatic win.