CHICAGO — You would've thought the Pope, Gandhi and George "Papa Bear" Halas were bringing the game ball out for Monday Night's showdown with the Vikings.
Rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky's first NFL start was that big, that emotional, that exciting, that wildly anticipated by Bears fans and teammates.
The pregame broadcast consisted of Trubisky's face flashed all over the south scoreboard, on press box monitors inside, on video of the North Carolina campus, his big college games, various media interviews, family photos at the dinner table and serene shots of him standing alone outside Soldier Field, pondering his Bears future.
He is, after all, the alleged franchise.
And isn't it about time? Jay Cutler wasn't the answer in 104 starts, winning only half.
Since the Bears' last trip to the Super Bowl in 2006, they've had 13 different quarterbacks start a game.
Since their 1985 Super Bowl championship season, they've had 40 different starters.
They needed a new direction.
There were eight reasons Mike Glennon lost his starting job this season — five interceptions and three fumbles in four games.
He has poor pocket presence, is immobile and can't throw deep. But we knew this in training camp.
Trubisky, the No. draft 2 pick, has quickness to escape the pocket, can buy time to extend plays and can throw accurately while rolling out.
He was sacked only 20 times in 467 pass plays last season at North Carolina and averaged 7.2 rushes per game.
Against Minnesota, on his first two throws, the kid had completions of 12 and 13 yards to Kendall Wright and looked so smooth, so confident the first quarter when he was 7 of 9 for 64 yards.
The second quarter, not so much, as Trubisky's strip sack gave Minnesota the ball at the Bears' 13 and set up Kal Forbath's chip-shot field goal for a 3-2 lead.
Trubisky's pro career won't be defined by one game on prime-time television, though it'll get tougher once there's sufficient tape on him.
Give Trubisky this entire season to learn and develop, improve his offensive line for 2018, get him some real weapons — guys who can chew gum and catch the football at the same time while flying down the field.
“You can call him ‘The Pretty Boy Assassin,’” linebacker Leonard Floyd told reporters last week. “He’s competitive, really competitive, but with a smile on his face.
"He’ll beat you, then be walking back to the huddle, look over and just smile at you. He’ll beat you with a smile on his face.”
Floyd stole some of the spotlight Monday with two first-half sacks of Sam Bradford and a safety.
The Bears had knocked Bradford out of the game before halftime and backup Case Keenum responded with a 15-yard touchdown toss to Kyle Rudolph for a 10-2 lead in the third.
Did you hear that? Boos.
It was time for the new kid to really step up.