January 16, 2011
Loud and raucous aren't two words normally associated with the singing of the national anthem, and when they are it's usually to describe infamous performances of the song, like Roseanne's in 1990. But loud and raucous is exactly what Soldier Field was during Jim Cornelison's rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" before the Chicago Bears NFC divisional playoff game. And that was exactly the point.
Borrowing a tradition, and a singer, from the city's hockey team, Bears fans cheered throughout the national anthem on Sunday creating an atmosphere never before seen in an NFL stadium. Watch as Cornelison leads a rousing rendition of the national anthem, complete with a perfectly timed flyover at the end (via @xmasape):
The anthem tradition traces back to the 1985 NHL playoffs when the Chicago Blackhawks arrived back in town down 0-2 in a series against the Edmonton Oilers. Not discouraged, fans loudly cheered the team before, during and after the anthem. The Blackhawks won, the fans did it again the next night to similar results and a ritual was born.
[Rewind video: Is Steven Tyler's national anthem the worst of all time?]
Cornelison, who works in real estate by day, has been singing the song at Blackhawks games since 1995.
Cheering during the anthem isn't my particular cup of tea (and I'm not the only one -- notice that a lot of fans in the clip are standing respectfully rather than whooping it up), but this is undeniably cool. And with the Bears handily defeating the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, don't be surprised if the scene repeats itself next week in the NFC championship.
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