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Thursday, September 6, 2012
No. 76: Chicago Bears

By Max Klinger
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 74
Title track: 47
Ownership: 64
Coaching: 70
Players: 50
Fan relations: 73
Affordability: 101
Stadium experience: 91
Bang for the buck: 93

The Bears have traditionally been purveyors of a hard-nosed defense, but in 2011 they were the victims of some hard knocks: Jay Cutler's broken thumb (then Matt Forte's torn MCL) initiated a five-game, late-season skid that kept Chicago out of the postseason. You can hardly blame the coaches or players for that kind of misfortune (players was up 21 spots, coaches up nine), but the front office did not emerge unscathed. Outside of bang for the buck (due to a 6.4 percent ticket-price increase), ownership dropped the most of any Bears category in our poll. That was surely reflective of the decision to bring in Phil Emery to replace GM Jerry Angelo (offensive coordinator Mike Martz was also replaced). With six Pro Bowlers in 2011, the Bears ranked near the top of the NFL for "likable players." But if Chicagoans are going to pay top-shelf ticket prices (the average soared into the triple digits at Soldier Field, the smallest stadium in the NFL), they're going to want some top-shelf postseason action soon.