As a Packer fan, I felt satisfied, almost like winning a game. But slowly, and wholly, I actually felt pain for a single person of the 7,700,000,000 who live on this planet. As the ball traveled its 43-yard trajectory, I watched the doink, and the other amazing doink that occurred after the first doink, which put the football—an odd prolate spheroid—in the slightly wrong direction. Off the upright, off the crossbar, moving back onto the playing field, losing a playoff game to fans of equally questionable aptitude than those attending at Chicago’s Soldier Field (meaning Philly’s Eagles, good luck without Foles … did I mention I’m a Packer fan?).
And so, Cody Parkey becomes Chicago legend, much like the whole ’68 49ers team who ended Gale Sayers career (but, truth told, were responsible for a huge part of the magnificent made-for-TV movie “Brian’s Song”). Missing a field goal is one thing, but Parkey hitting the upright seven times in a single season is a statistical anomaly that Rainman should take to Vegas. Here we were, though. He’d sent the ball right through the goalposts on the first try to win, just after a time-out was called by the visiting team with ten seconds left. And you could feel the palpable dread hanging over everything, everywhere, in the next thirty seconds. The hesitation. The history. Da Bears.
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Yes, doink, upright, doink, crossbar, doh, loss.
Along came the requisite death threats, hate mail, immediate release from the team—as well as something altogether unexpected, from an equally unexpected source. It was empathy, sharing a sense of loss, not of a football game but of civility. And this consideration was shown by Chicago’s famous and favorite beer brewery: Goose Island (who chart number three on Food & Wine’s “25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever Brewed”!).
”Illinois state law doesn’t allow us to give away free beer for a year so we’re going to send any contestant who makes the 43-yard field goal to a 2019 NFL regular season game of their choice.Todd AhsmannGoose Island President
Their outlook was that the negativity—after one of the Bear’s most sensational seasons in years—was, well, no good. So, Goose Island employee Zac Connelly proffered a tantalizing offer on Facebook: If it’s so easy, why don’t you do it?
Kickers have always been the odd man out on a football team. There’s not as much complexity, no run-pass option, no pulling left or right to block, no dive or bomb to perform. They have one job, over and over, requiring about three seconds to execute: Line up, kick the ball, make the kick. Easy peasy. Any armchair quarterback, or kicker, has sat on any given Sunday and thought “I could make an extra point.”
But it ain’t easy.
Goose Island wanted to show a still-livid city just how much skill is involved. They challenged Chicagoans, actually anyone, to come make a 43-yard field goal to win tickets to a 2019 regular season game of their choice—airfare, hotels, the works. And as momentum built, they upped the ante: Make the first kick and try a 65-yard field goal for tickets to the next Super Bowl. Then Goose Island actually built a goal post outside the brewery, with a tee exactly 43 yards away. And on one Saturday last January, 103 would-be NFL kickers came to conquer. They kicked to win. And they were hilarious (cue “Yakety Sax” here).
No hidden kicking gems were uncovered.
”I honestly believe human connection is the thing that drives us forward in anything—experience. Putting a ball on the ground and stepping up and trying to put it through that far away is the only way the average Joe can even remotely connect with how difficult it is. And there’s a beer on the line for them, but the weight of Chicago was on the Bears kicker’s shoulders.Mark OlsenEncore Live SVP
Turns out kicking a 43-yard field goal is demanding, especially with snow falling as it did on January 12 (cue foot-slipping, butt-busting montage here). And it also turns out that artfully marketing your brand doesn’t have to be about newsletters, websites, email blasts, Facebook ads or discount coupons, sometimes it comes down to just raising a glass and making a cheer to balls in the air.
As a capper, Experiential Review contacted Chicago Superfan, Bill Swerski, for an exclusive interview.
ER: As brutal as it was, are you still a Bears fan … who will you root for next year?
BS: Da Bears … also, did I tell you the time Ditka pulled a Green Line “L” from Forest Park to 63rd Street with just his teeth, so I wouldn’t be late for work?
”Saturday’s challenge is to bring people together through a common passion of sports and over a pint of delicious beer.Todd AhsmannGoose Island President