Theobald covered series for over 30 years

Bears-Packers Memories

By Marc Strauss

January 20, 2011 Updated Jan 20, 2011 at 8:58 PM CDT

When the Bears face the Packers Sunday Phil Theobald will be watching.

But News 25's Marc Strauss says that's not unusual. Theobald's probably seen more Bears-Packers games over the years than anyone else in central Illinois.

Sunday's NFC Championship game will be the 182nd chapter of the NFL's oldest rivalry, the Bears versus the Packers.

It seems incomprehensible that retired Journal Star sportswriter Phil Theobald covered almost a third of those meetings.

"It goes back to the 1920's and (Curly) Lambeau and (George) Halas and the formation of the league and the frozen tundra in both places. It's a storied thing and the teams just don't like each other," said Theobald.

Phil covered the rivalry when even the head coaches didn't like each other.

Mike Ditka and Forrest Gregg had competed against each other as players. And that competition didn't end when they hung up the spikes.

"Gregg wasn't much of a coach and it was a period where the Packers were not very good," said Theobald. "And he was not above doing some untoward things to get an edge in a game. It really deteriorated into a mass brawl."

Ditka and the Bears got even by running up the score on Gregg's Packers whenever they got the chance.

Phil says today's version of the rivalry is tame by comparison.

"They've got vanilla players."

After more than 30 years as a beat writer covering the team Theobald still follows the Bears. And even though he claims he'd rather watch this Sunday's historic meeting with Green Bay on his couch than in the press box, he didn't mind offering a prediction.

"I like the Bears' quarterback (Jay Cutler) if they give him enough protection. I like their running game, which does just enough. I like the Bears to win this game and I like the Packers fans to grovel."

And we liked when Phil used to write about.