1985 Bears Coverage: Fighting not part of game plan for Dallas

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Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Fighting not part of game plan for Dallas

Kevin Lamb

Originally published Nov. 12, 1985

Bear players don’t expect their game Sunday at Dallas to turn into a brawl like the exhibition last August that resulted in fines for six Bears.

“I hope it’s just a good game without all the other stuff,” linebacker Mike Singletary said yesterday. “I think the other stuff isn’t football, and I don’t see how anyone can enjoy that.”

The other stuff didn’t amuse Commissioner Pete Rozelle. He sent Bears president Mike McCaskey a two-page letter after the exhibition game, specifying the late hits and punching matches to which he objected.

The letter also notified the Bears of $300 fines for halfback Dennis Gentry and offensive linemen Keith Van Horne, Mark Bortz, Jay Hilgenberg, Tom Thayer and Rob Fada, who no longer is on the team.

Bortz and Van Horne were principal foils in the most obvious incident, which resulted in defensive tackle Randy White’s ejection from the game and an automatic $1,000 fine.

It began in the first quarter, when White ripped off Van Horne’s helmet. Bortz said he shoved White to keep him from hitting Van Horne, and White hit Bortz on the head with the helmet.

Bortz was philosophical about being fined without throwing a punch. “Maybe we’ll get a cure for cancer,” he said. NFL fines go into a cancer research fund bearing Vince Lombardi’s name.

“I don’t think he was frustrated,” Bortz said of White. “He’s an intense player. He goes all-out every play, and sometimes after every play, too. It’s going to be a little war out there. I think a little bit will carry over.”

After the exhibition, several Cowboys explained they had decided to show the national audience the Bears weren’t the only tough guys in the NFL. But that game didn’t count. The stakes Sunday are the Cowboys’ share of first place in their division and the Bears’ undefeated record.

“Fighting and doing the things we did in the exhibition game have no place in it,” coach Mike Ditka said. “Whether you’re going to be more macho or the other guy’s going to be more macho, that doesn’t matter.”

Linebacker Otis Wilson remembers a block by fullback Timmy Newsome. He called it a cheap shot because the play had passed them. “I’m going to be on him all day,” said Wilson, who missed the next exhibition because of it.

“We’re going to go out there with one intention – to win the game,” Wilson said. `If they want to fight, we’ll protect ourselves. We’re not going out there with the intention of getting into fistfights. If they want to do that, we should put on gloves and go out in the parking lot.”

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