NFL Bars in Chicago
**FIND YOUR TEAM’S BAR BY CHOOSING A CONFERENCE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE**
In high school and college, the routine was simple. The weekdays were for school, Saturday was for pounding out homework, and Sunday was for football. Not just any football, but Philadelphia Eagles football. I grew up outside of Philadelphia and I went to college at the University of Delaware, so my entire sports life has been spent in the comfort of the motherland. It isn’t until you find yourself in a city unfriendly or even uninterested entirely in your team that you discover how much of the nuance of gameday you are missing out on. I suppose since the Eagles and Bears are in the same conference there is some sort of minor rivalry there. Certainly we have played some tough games against each other in recent history. I discovered I was disgusted by the idea that I would likely have to watch my team along with a bar full of people who didn’t like me, or at least with people who didn’t care at all. I don’t know what the culture of a Bears fan is, or a Jets, Dolphins, or Bills fan, for that matter, but I bet I could spot an Eagles fan without knowing what game he was watching. If you are from out of state you probably feel the same way about your team and its fan base. There is something special about watching your home team with people who grew up doing the same. Football season has started again and I have been lucky enough to find my very own haven in the midst of Chicago Bearitory. My little home away from home, where you will likely find me most Sundays (and the occasional Monday, although I don’t know what kind of broadcast numbers they expect from an Eagles game), is called Mad River Bar and Grille on 3909 N Sheffield.
I know most of you are, if not Bears fans, likely not Eagles fans either. But that’s the point. This city is filled with football fans from all over the country and no one should have to watch their home team without having a few like-minded brethren beside them. The bar I go to has a huge Eagles banner flying inside. I was lucky enough to find it right around the corner from my very first Chicago apartment. It was organized by Eagles fans who wanted a place to boo their beloved birds in peace, and the current organizer is a woman named Casey. She made me feel welcome when Mad River was one of the first places I went after moving here. I didn’t know anybody but she greeted me right when I walked in. Soon I was sitting with a table full of fans, and at my first game back this season I sat confidently at the bar and talked shop with everyone around me. There is a mood, I am certain, surrounding every sports team. The reason I like being at Mad River so much is you can tell even though you aren’t in Philly, for a few hours at least you can feel like you’re back home. At one point during the game the Eagles blew a third down play and had to punt. The guy next to me immediately went, “pssssshhh!! Season’s over!” Michael Vick threw a few good passes and we cheered; then he threw one at a receiver’s feet and somebody said, “I thought we traded McNabb.” It was beautiful. I could have been at Chickie and Pete’s in South Philly or listening to 610 WIP talk radio on the Schuylkill expressway. You know your own.
So to help facilitate that camaraderie this sports season I have compiled a list. I scoured the city for every bar I could find that made mention of being a host for an out of town football team. Some were easy to locate, some slightly harder, and there were even a few I could not find at all. This is information dug sometimes from the depths of the net, whispers through alleys and cobwebs, and I cannot promise that each of these locations will still be hosting games, hosting every single Sunday, or be as encompassing and enthusiastic as my Mad River. Most seemed very reliable, but I do encourage you to call up before you go. You owe it to yourself anyway, if it’s your first venture to your home team’s bar. Find out what specials they have, or what time they suggest getting there. My bar fills up pretty early and I was lucky to get the last spot at the bar for the first game of the season. What follows is all the bars I could find. I sincerely hope your team is listed. I could not locate a single bar for any of the four teams in the NFC West. If your team is not among those who have a nest (sorry, I think in terms of bird references) in Chicago, I urge you to start your own displaced fan club. Approach the owner of your favorite bar and find out if he or she would be willing to host your team on Sundays. Chances are, they go for it assuming they don’t already host another team. That’s how Mad River got the Eagles. It wasn’t because of the management, but the fans, who promised a higher volume of business. Don’t let another season go by watching your team on one of seven screens in a bar with fans from the rest of the league. I don’t want to be anywhere near a Cowboys fan on a Sunday. Or a Tuesday. Any day, really.