LAKE FOREST | Suddenly, without warning, the Charlie Brown Christmas Theme filled the media room at Halas Hall on Wednesday.
Necks were strained, bodies were twisted, all trying to locate the source.
It was Bears' record-setting wide receiver Brandon Marshall, making a grand entrance for his weekly press conference and holding a sickly, 18-inch Charlie Brown Christmas tree with eight skimpy branches and just one red ornament as he approached the podium.
Camera phones were drawn like dueling pistols. TV cameras closed in for tighter shots.
"Where's Woodstock?" someone asked.
"With Snoopy, out in the car," laughed another.
Marshall carefully placed the tree on the podium, turned off the music, and stepped back a bit.
"Right now, our season looks like this tree," Marshall said, trying to keep a straight face. "Our tree looks very bad with branches and stuff falling off or taped. But we still have a chance to get our Christmas wish.
"As a kid, it doesn't matter how your Christmas tree looks. You have hopes and dreams that Santa's gonna bring you the things you asked for. It's always a possibility."
Cameras continued capturing this priceless moment.
"Where we stand today, our goal is winning the NFC championship, beat the Green Bay Packers, win the Super Bowl and all of that can still be under the Christmas tree," Marshall said.
Losers in four of their last five games, the underdog Bears (8-5) host the Packers (9-4) Sunday afternoon in a huge NFC North showdown.
Green Bay has won the last five meetings and can clinch its second straight divisional title while likely reducing the Bears' playoff hopes to a wild card.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice, his guys averaging a shade over 14 points a game the last five outings, is concerned for another reason.
"They're not having fun. We need to have fun -- it lessens the pressure and stress," Tice said.
Marshall helped lighten the mood before changing gears. He is still upset with Packers defensive backs Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams for their disparaging remarks after the Bears' 23-10 loss in Green Bay on Sept. 13.
In that whipping, the 6-foot-4 Marshall had only two catches for 24 yards and quarterback Jay Cutler threw four interceptions, prompting Woodson and Williams to take perceived cheap shots at both.
At the time of his presser, Marshall wasn't aware the Packers had decided not to play Woodson, who is still recovering from a broken collarbone suffered Oct. 21.
"This is the biggest game of my career," Marshall said. "I had this game marked since we played them last. Tramon and Woodson do a lot of talking, so this is personal for me."
Marshall said he resented the Packers bragging they had shut him down, conveniently overlooking he had double and triple coverage, then dared them to play him one-on-one Sunday so he could "make them pay."
"We all know about the rivalry. We all know about what's at stake," Marshall said. "I'm gonna play like it's my last game."
He spoke a few more minutes, grabbed his Christmas tree, flipped on the holiday music, and walked out.
Charlie Brown had left the building.