TELANDER: Close game against Falcons might not mean anything for Bears

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Teams in the NFL can lose close games forever. Superstars win you the nail-biters. And the Bears have no superstars.

If quarterback Mike Glennon and the Bears had made one makeable play as time was expiring Sunday against the Falcons, he — and they — would be heroes.

Instead, the Bears lost 23-17 and are 0-1. And Glennon and his mates are in dubious waters. Make that shark-infested waters.

There is no sympathy in the NFL, and fans who think this close call against the Super Bowl runners-up from last season means the Bears must be on their way to better things might be badly mistaken.

Teams in the NFL can lose close games forever. Superstars win you the nail-biters. And the Bears have no superstars.

If I’m mistaken, please correct me.

OK, rookie Tarik Cohen looks like a difference-maker, but we need more than four quarters of NFL football to rate him.

The 2016 Bears were so dreadful — 3-13 — partly because so many players were injured. And now, after a single game this season, three starters are already on injured reserve.

This is pro football, and it’s all about hurting. But the Bears make you wonder if they’re on a collective suicide mission.

I wonder if somebody in a position of power might tell the Bears to start wearing more pads, to put on joint braces, to do something to keep from getting spindled and mutilated. I know everybody strips down for speed and agility, but breaking your shoulder blade — hello, Kevin White! — might be a preventable injury with certain protection.

I’m only saying this because if the injuries keep piling up — and why would they stop? — who will be left to play the game?

White is obviously injury-prone. He might be brittle, undisciplined or too big a target. It’s also possible he has had three years of bad luck.

And it’s also possible newly activated practice-squad receiver Tanner Gentry will be the Bears’ version of Packers star Jordy Nelson. Or he might be a clone of 84-year-old singer Willie Nelson.

The thing is, there’s no time to find out because the Bears have to travel to Tampa, Florida, to play the Buccaneers on Sunday.

The Bears are so thin at receiver that they might even bring back Victor Cruz from wherever he’s reclining these days. Cruz was once a star pass-catcher, with 241 receptions and 23 touchdowns for the Giants from 2011 to 2013. But that’s ancient history.

Remember No. 1 receiver Cam Meredith? Gone for the season with a knee injury suffered during the preseason. Ancient history, bro.

So what have the Bears got now? Injuries seem to be their calling card.

Remember Kyle Long, the young offensive lineman who brought so much spirit to the team? He’s recovering from so many injuries that it might take a slow-motion camera to record him getting out of bed in the morning.

But maybe he’ll be back. Maybe anything.

The game against the Falcons, which so easily could have been a victory, really is nothing but an ‘‘L.’’ There are no moral victories in the NFL. And weeping about injuries and might-have-beens leads to nothing.

There is an infectious thing called Overreacting to Game 1, and it’s all about hysteria, joy and despair. The Colts should quit the NFL and join a flag league, and the Packers will win the Super Bowl, provided the Steelers or Chiefs don’t. That kind of thing.

I think the Bears can beat the Bucs in Tampa, but I also think they could get whipped in a game that, golly, they could have won but just didn’t quite.

If these injuries continue as they have, it seems likely Glennon himself will get hurt. In that case, there will be no quarterback controversy because young Mitch Trubisky will be forced to play.

But without anybody to pass to and with men falling around him like corn stalks in a tornado, that won’t be much fun for him — or for Bears fans.

The great Gale Sayers got badly injured in his fifth season with the Bears. The 49ers’ Kermit Alexander hit Sayers when his knee was planted, and that was it.

Hello, Comet. Goodbye, Comet.

Nobody blames Sayers for his short career, and I won’t blame the Bears for getting injured.

But it sure would be nice if they stayed healthy.

Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.

Email: rtelander@suntimes.com

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