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In the meantime, The Super Bowl Shuffle, an outrageous brag-and-stomp recording for charity, has gone gold in Chicago. The Loop has gone more than a little loopy. Two weeks ago, TV viewers in the maternity ward were trying to time their contractions to deliver at halftime. And now "nickel defense" bottles are appearing in store fronts as the public chips in to defray Linebacker Wilber Marshall's $2,000 fine for excessive on-field violence and McMahon's $5,000 penalty for advertising sporting goods on his forehead. (Last week he donated his headband space to Commissioner Pete Rozelle in tribute.) On its editorial page, the Tribune tried to explain to overwhelmed out-of-towners that "the Bears have just reversed Chicago's feeling that was somehow a city on the slide, a city of rusting smokestack industry, of violence and perpetual political scandal." Clearly, "only someone who has lived in the Snowbelt in January can understand what the Bears have done to Chicago. They have given us something to hope and cheer for in January, the time when ordinarily that bleak post-holiday depression sets in, and all we have to look forward to are subzero temperatures, blizzards and watching our cars rust. This January, cabin fever has been replaced by Bears fever."
New England is in roughly the same throes. Though the Bears hoped to avenge their only loss against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots are the more seemly opponents. For the 20th Super Bowl, fresh new teams are a sound idea. Chicago defeated New England last September, 20-7, but the Bears should be reminded that three weeks before they edged the Washington Redskins in the 1940 championship game, 73-0, the Redskins clobbered them, 7-3. As if bracing himself against an old despair, Payton says, "The worst thing in the world is to reach for a star and fall short." Whoever wins the Super Bowl, how could anyone fall short now? --By Tom Callahan