Bears-Packers rivalry more special for fans than players

It’s the ultimate trip to the Super Bowl for fans of the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

Beat your arch rival and watch your team head to Super Bowl XLV. The Bears and Packers will meet for the 182nd time on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field, the first time they have faced each other in the postseason since 1941, a week after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

This is, by far, the biggest meeting in the history of the NFL’s longest-running rivalry. But as much as the rivalry means to the fans, it’s not necessarily the same thing for the players. They get what it means to the fans, but to them it’s another game against a team from their division, one they know well.

“There is a lot more made of it than really there should be,” Bears defensive end Julius Peppers said. “You can put all that stuff on the exterior but you’ve got to execute. It’s not going to come down to all of the Hall of Famers in the past. It’s about what these guys in this locker room do.”

Chris Harris called it a “respectful” thing. “I have a dislike for them, but you don’t have to publicly come out and tell how bad we hate them or whatever the case may be,” he said.

Veteran safety Chris Harris said he told Packers wide receiver Donald Driver after the Week 17 meeting at Lambeau Field that he’d see him in the NFC title game.

“I had a feeling that they would make it. I was very confident in what we could do, so we got the rematch,” Harris said. “They looked great, they looked very dominant. We’re familiar with them. They’re familiar with us. IT’s going to be an excellent for TV.

“It’s a little more intense, because of that rich tradition in the rivalry. It’s very respectful. We’re not a team that does a lot of trash talking. We’d rather just show it on the field. They’re the same way. Two teams that definitely respect each other. I have a dislike for them, but you don’t have to publicly come out and tell how bad we hate them or whatever the case may be.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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