CHICAGO — You've got to love the Chicago Bears, the only team in the world that would dare R.S.V.P. a Super Bowl without an invitation.
You talk about tacky. Or is that cocky? If Dear Abby gets wind of this, she'll probably flip her wig and rearrange a table setting or something.
It was just about a month ago, long before their 24-0 pounding of the Rams would clinch an NFC title, that the Bears more or less announced they were going to New Orleans for the Super Bowl.
Now, etiquette dictates that talking about The Big One before qualifying for The Big One is a gaffe of monumental proportions.
Yet, the Bears took it one step further. They made a rock video to announce their intentions.
Cue to you, William Perry.
"Well, you're looking at the Fridge, I'm the rookie, I may be big, but I'm no dumb cookie."
OK, all you other Bears now: "Now I'm not here, looking for trouble, I'm just here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle."
The Bears made the rap-style video in December. During the regular season.
Please excuse the Bears for sounding presumptuous, but as the Rams found out Sunday at Soldier Field, they weren't just blowing snow. Their shellacking of the Rams was their second shutout in the playoffs.
You can call the Bears what you want: Arrogant, show-offs, a bunch of goof-balls, but that sure was one fine job of soothsaying they pulled off.
"What are you supposed to do?" Bear Coach Mike Ditka said. "Not talk about the Super Bowl when you win 12 games in a row? Are you going to set a goal and then say, 'Oh, let's not talk about it because people will think we're cocky?' "
Well, perhaps you might have, uh . . .
"Sure, we wanted to go to the Super Bowl," Ditka continued. "If you want to do something in life, you'd better show people that this is where I want to be and this is where I want to go."
But, come on, a Super Bowl video?
"They did that for charity," Ditka said. "I have no questions about that. All I said was that come playoff time, it was time to turn off that other stuff."
It was so hard, though. Turn on a television set in Chicago these days and see Bear quarterback, Jim McMahon swigging soft drinks with Refrigerator Perry, who was storing his by the case.
Or, if you missed that, catch the Bear offensive line, known around here as the Bruise Brothers, dressed in hats and sunglasses while pitching a local auto dealership.
Perry, the 300-pound defensive lineman and heart-throb, has done spots for toilet tissue, thermal underwear and a fast-food chain.
It's not that the Bears knew they were going to the Super Bowl, but after they beat the Washington Redskins in week four to go 4-0, the Chicago Sun-Times came up with "Super Bowl Fever" for its Monday morning headline.
It sure seems the Bears knew something. And no way were they going to lose to the Rams and wake up today with egg splattered on their faces.
"We knew if we played the caliber of football that we played all year, nobody could beat us as long as we scored a point," linebacker Otis Wilson said.
Safety Dave Duerson said it wasn't a case of his team blowing its own horn.
"We just had belief in ourself," Duerson said of Chicago's marketing campaign to the Super Bowl. "It wasn't conceit. It was a little cockiness, a little arrogance. But those are the things that make championship teams."
Of course, having a few guys like McMahon doesn't hurt. Jimbo Covert, the Bears' All-Pro offensive tackle, said his quarterback was in usual form against the Rams.
"Our protection broke down and he just started yelling at us," Covert said. "He told us to get our heads out of our butts. But that's normal for him."
And meet McMahon, the free-spirited one.
In the third quarter, with the Bears leading 10-0, McMahon had moved his team to the Rams' 22-yard line.
"I sent in a running play and he didn't like it at all," Ditka said.
McMahon changed it to a pass and hit Willie Gault for a touchdown.
It was enough to send the Rams home and Gault into a Super Bowl Shuffle.
"Just because we do something off the field doesn't mean we don't come to play on Sundays," Gault said. "We're professionals."