Coin Down Chicago Bears!

bearscoin-9By David G. Firestone

As the Chicago Bears hold their home opener this week, I felt it would be prudent to go off-topic this week. This will be the last off-topic Friday Feature for 2016. I will have some stuff for next year, but it will be more spread out…more on that later.

2004 was not a great year for Chicago sports. The Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, Fire, and White Sox all missed the playoffs, while having mediocre to awful seasons. The Cubs and White Sox were dead by September, and while the Bulls and Blackhawks were getting started, it became clear rather quickly that they had nothing, and their seasons weren’t going to go anywhere. The Fire have always been the odd group out in Chicago sports. When they won the MLS Cup in October 1998, nobody in Chicago noticed or cared. But like the rest of the sports in Chicago, the season they had was not great in 2004.

The bright spot was supposed to be football. The Bears had a decent roster, a new set of alternate uniforms, and a brand new coach in Lovie Smith. The NFC North wasn’t as strong as other conferences. So it is into this season the Bears started on September 12, 2004. The Bears began their season at home against the Lions. Before the game, they lost the coin toss, and went on to lose the game. The coin toss was conducted with this Chicago Bears coin.bearscoin-9 bearscoin-10The Highland Mint Bears coin isn’t of the Opening Day variety commonly used, but comes with a box, and full PSA/DNA authenticationbearscoin-1 bearscoin-2The HEADS side of the coin features a Chicago Bears “Wishbone C” logo, and CHICAGO BEARS EST 1920 stamped into it.bearscoin-3 bearscoin-4The back of the coin features the pre-2007 NFL shield, and has OFFICIAL GAME COIN 2004 stamped into it.bearscoin-5 bearscoin-6The coin is stamped #531. There were a total of 5000 made, and while other examples of game-used toss coins are numbered 0001, this isn’t surprising as any one of the 5000 coins made could find their way onto the field.bearscoin-7 bearscoin-8Game used coins are an interesting aspect of the memorabilia market, because there is a discussion about if they are “game used” or “pregame used.” I’m wondering if there should be a separate category for “pregame used” memorabilia. MLB and the NHL both have special warm up jerseys worn prior to games. Should they be called “game worn” when they never saw action during an actual game?

The coin itself could realistically be called “game used” because it directly affects the outcome of the game. It decides which team gets the ball first. It it is used in an overtime situation, it decides who gets the ball first in overtime. So my solution is that to have a separate sub-category in game-used sports memorabilia called “pregame used” memorabilia. This sub-category would consist of items used in pregame warmups, batting practice, or practice, but never actually used in games.

Truth be told, I have no idea why I like game-used coins. I used to collect coins, but I haven’t really done so for many years. I don’t always understand why I find things interesting, but I’m probably like a lot of people in this respect. We all have things that interest us, but we can’t really explain why they interest us.

OK, enough football stuff, next week, we go back to drag racing parachutes.

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