Per tradition, the Super Bowl champions typically play in the first game of the following NFL season
Instead of Tom Brady and the Super Bowl LIII champion New England Patriots playing in the opening game of the 2019 season, the NFL will break from tradition this year to pit Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers against the Chicago Bears.
While the defending Super Bowl winner has played in every season opener since 2003, the NFL announced this week that they are showcasing their longest and most storied rivalry in the Packers and the Bears for the first game of their 100th season.
The two teams will host Thursday night kickoff from Soldier Field in Chicago on Thursday, September 5, with the six-time champion Patriots playing the following Sunday.
“We’re really celebrating the Bears, who were also one of the original member clubs and are celebrating their 100th season; as well as Green Bay, which celebrated its 100th season last year,” Hans Schroeder, executive vice president and chief operating officer of NFL Media, told the Chicago Tribune. “Really an iconic matchup.”
The Packers and Bears rivalry is one of the longest in all of pro sports, with their first game dating back to November 1921 — which Chicago won. But the Packers are now leading in the all-time series against the two franchises, and own a 97-95-6 record against the Bears, who can nearly even things up come September with a win to kick off the season.
“As an organization, we are thrilled to be kicking off the 100th season of football in the NFL,” Bears Chairman George McCaskey said in a statement, according to the Tribune. “As a charter franchise, we cannot think of a better way to begin our centennial season by hosting our longtime rival in prime time at Soldier Field.”
The Packers struggled last season, finishing with a 6-9-1 record, and saw coach Mike McCarthy fired just hours after a Week 13 loss. The Bears, meanwhile, finished 12-4, but were eliminated from the playoffs by the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles.
With a win, the Bears — who are also celebrating their 100th anniversary as a franchise — could see the perfect start to the season.
“It’s really cool that the NFL is honoring one of the original teams,” former Bears cornerback Charles Tillman told the Tribune. “What better way to kick off the season than Bears-Packers? And I’m glad it’s in Chicago.”