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Couch: It’s way too early to believe Justin Fields can change Chicago’s sorry quarterback history

Op-ed
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Years after he retired, Charles M. Schulz, the legendary "Peanuts" cartoonist, explained why he never let Charlie Brown kick the football Lucy held: "You can't create humor out of happiness."

Maybe that explains why the Bears' quarterback predicament is the longest-running joke in professional football. It certainly explains why I see rookie Justin Fields as Chicago's next punch line.

I'm not falling for the same old trick, the gimmick that leaves Chicago Bears fans – including me – in tears every fall.

To be a Bears fan is to promise yourself that you absolutely, positively will never be duped again by the hope of a new quarterback. And after that, it's to immediately fall in love with Jay Cutler. Or Mitch Trubisky. Or Cade McNown. Or Rex Grossman.

Or Kordell Stewart. Erik Kramer. Mike Glennon.

I could go on. And on.

I'm not buying into Justin Fields, the rookie quarterback who is already the talk of Chicago, not to mention the NFL. It's just too risky.

Before Fields took even one snap in his first preseason game, his jersey was already among a handful of the best-sellers in the NFL. In June, NFLShop.com reported that Fields' jersey was the No. 2 best-seller, ahead of Tom Brady. Ahead of Aaron Rodgers. Ahead of Patrick Mahomes. Behind only Tim Tebow, who has at least accomplished something in the NFL.

Meanwhile, at my local grocery store outside Chicago, there are 13 Trubisky jerseys on a clearance rack. Trubisky was the most recent great QB hope, as the Bears traded on draft day four years ago so they could move up to pick him. They selected him over Mahomes.

Chicagoans have bought into Fields. On Saturday, he was very good against the Miami Dolphins in the preseason opener. The Bears scored 17 points on his final four possessions. He completed passes, bounced away when it looked like he was going to be sacked, and ran in for a touchdown.

He is what Chicago wants most of all. This has been a city of superstars and the world's best and tallest. It had the greatest basketball player of all time in Michael Jordan, the greatest linebacker in Dick Butkus, and among the greatest in Bobby Hull, Gale Sayers, Walter Payton, Ernie Banks. The city used to define itself by those stars more than by victories themselves.

It had what was once the tallest building (Sears Tower), the busiest airport (O'Hare), the coolest mobster (Al Capone).

Chicago takes pride in these things, but many of the all-time greats are gone or surpassed now. Even Oprah left.

Through it all, though, Chicago never got what it wants most of all: A quarterback for the Bears.

The most failed position in American sports history is quarterback for the Bears. Sid Luckman won four championships in the role. He retired in 1950. The Bears haven't had an accurate deep passer since then.

In the mid-1980s, they did have Jim McMahon for a few years, and with him, Payton, and the greatest defense of all time, the Bears managed one measly Super Bowl. McMahon kept getting hurt.

Then the Bears had hope with Mike Tomczak, who bombed out. And Jim Harbaugh, who flopped too.

Fields is selling jerseys, but he's only on spec. And while Bears fans can't believe their luck in having him, they forget that he wasn't their first choice.

When Deshaun Watson said he wanted out of Houston, Chicago spent weeks excitedly daydreaming and filling talk radio with thoughts of getting him. That didn't work out. Then Russell Wilson listed the Bears as a team he'd be interested in leaving Seattle for.

Fields was actually the third person the Bears asked to the prom. But since Chicago is the black hole for quarterbacks, the city has gotten excited about anyone who would say yes.

It's not all about karma, either.

Mostly, the Bears, from one coaching staff or general manager to the next, can't spot QB talent. Cutler did have a revolving door of coordinators and coaches, in addition to a lack of desire. Trubisky seemed to have claustrophobia in the pocket. The offensive line is usually terrible.

The Bears, without a legitimate left tackle to protect Fields, signed Jason Peters out of a presumed retirement this week. He's a nine-time Pro Bowler. He's also 39 years old.

Meanwhile, the hated Green Bay Packers have had Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers since 1992. And now Chicago excitedly looks at its future with Fields while the Packers are likely stuck after this year with lowly Jordan Love.

Bears fans think their luck has finally turned. I'm not buying. The football gods won't find that funny at all.

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