Nothing supplants the catharsis of that championship itself, certainly, the culmination of so much emotional investment into a single moment of triumph that reverberates into the parties and parades, but living the life of a franchise on the rise and in a competitive phase is hard to beat, and the anticipation of what's to come is an important part of the fun.
That's what should be kept in mind as we emerge from another Bears draft going through the usual motions of picking over the selections and trades in the ways that we do, understanding that it's just one piece of something larger. It became clear as a marking point due to the availability and proximity of so many people instrumental in getting us here and in noticing a consistency with how the Bears' leaders are speaking about it all.
General manager Ryan Pace told 670 The Score on Monday morning that, "The expectations are high here, and we've got a great vibe in the building." He added that he mentioned the urgency of his work to his wife, noting, "I've only got a couple windows to improve this team."
The reigning NFL Executive of the Year, Pace has been finding Pro Bowl players in the fourth round and has pushed the button on two blockbuster trades that have resulted in the acquisition of Pro Bowlers at the two most important single positions in the game. It's not about quibbling over mid-round picks now but the trust he has earned overall.
Owner George McCaskey was on 670 The Score on Saturday, and he kept the bar high from the top.
"The goal every year is to win the Super Bowl," he said. "It's not to get close, it's not to make the playoffs, it's not to have a winning record. We want to play in the last game of the year, and we want to win it."
For the first time in a while, such comments don't sound crazy.
And then there's NFL Coach of the Year Matt Nagy, who continues to carry himself with a level of positive confidence that seems to come from a real and honest place, in an entirely relatable way. He's an easy guy to like, and he's not letting the crushing disappointment of last season's end become a headwind for his team now.
"We can use the, ‘Hey, the Cody Parkey miss.' It's OK. It doesn’t hurt me. It’s fine, it’s good," Nagy said as he addressed the placekicking situation that he defused from being what he called "the elephant in the room."
"Use it. Talk about it. It’s a healthy thing. So we feel good about it and we’re going to get this thing right."
This is refreshing, and we should appreciate it. We're at a point in the Bears' existence that our default setting for responding to what we see in their decision-making and hear from the people in charge is one of belief. It's a scary place sometimes for we skeptics, to be sure, but it's also a fact to be enjoyed. There have been no injuries to the 2019 Bears and no losses to lament, and yet nothing is promised regardless of what any expert or oddsmaker says -- this sport is cruel one that flips scripts every year with twisted knees, impossible bounces and and unfair officiating, and the time could come this fall when we look back at the post-draft-weekend optimism and share a sardonic laugh.
So it's all the more reason to smell the roses for a bit. Right now is a good time to care about this team.