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1985 Bears Coverage: When Bears play, city stops

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.

When Bears play, city stops

Clem Richardson

Originally published Nov. 4, 1985

Russ Loebe glanced up at the television screen and shook his head in disbelief.

“A play like that could change the face of football,” Loebe said to Julie LaFevre. “Mike Ditka’s changed the complexion of the game.”

Loebe and other faithful Chicago Bear fans at the Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill, 356 W. Armitage, still were shaking their heads at the sight of the new big man around town, William “Refrigerator” Perry, catching a short pass and hauling his massive frame into the end zone to give the Bears an early lead against the Green Bay Packers.

“Think of it,” Loebe said. “Big receivers, big linebackers. Third and a couple to go, and you go to the big man. It boggles the mind.”

Perry’s touchdown was greeted by a cheer that might have been heard up the lake in Green Bay. Loebe said the noise is part of the reason fans go to the bar whenever the Bears play.

“You yell like this at home and everybody will think you’re nuts,” he said.

Merle Cooper, Lisa Brasch, Cindy Pyrkowski and Sherri Wasserman quaffed a few cold ones and agonized as the team struggled.

“What we need is a bomb, you know, the long ball,” Brasch said to no one in particular. Everyone seemed to agree.

Across the street, bartender Anne Thompson was serving Bloody Marys – “lots of Bloody Marys” – to a similar group of fans at Gamekeepers Tavern and Grill, 1971 N. Lincoln.

“I get to watch a little of the game between servings,” Thompson said. Perry was the name on patrons’ lips. Kathy Wright and Dave Kent also marveled at his play.

“I don’t know if he’s that good, or if it’s just the way Ditka is using him,” Kent offered. “The team is a lot more creative this year than last.”

On the South Side, the exercise equipment sat idle at the Hyde Park Health and Fitness Center, 1301 E. 47th, as about 25 sweatsuited men and women watched the final moments of the Bears’ 16-10 victory on a wide-screen television set.

“There are usually more people here watching the game,” tennis pro Chris Scott said. “I think they thought Green Bay was a pushover.”

“The bookies made out like bandits on this one,” another man observed as the game ended. “They booked the Bears with a 7-point spread.”