The ’85 Bears couldn’t happen today.
I don’t mean on the field. It’s possible someone will put together a football team full of excellent players that dominates the NFL the way the Bears did that season. Who knows, maybe that someone will be new Bears general manager Ryan Pace.
The rest of it – the mooning quarterback, the say-anything head coach, the combustible coach-defensive coordinator dynamic and all the other crazy things that made the team memorable – would end up in smoking heap in this image-conscious league. The extra-large personalities, the outrageous quotes, the humanness would never see the light of day. Pity.
It has been 30 years since that team won the Super Bowl, and it’s grip on this city hasn’t loosened. But if you plopped it into today’s tightly regulated world, in which media interview requests have to be made 24 hours in advance during Bears training camp and coaches’ postgame news conferences are ended after five or six questions, the public fervor wouldn’t be the same.
We wouldn’t have gotten to know Mongo, The Fridge, Sweetness, Danimal, Buddy Ryan and the rest of the zoo. And we would be lesser for it.
A league that has spent months in existential angst over deflated footballs would have tried to impound Jim McMahon.
A team that limits media access never would have allowed Mike Ditka to be his unpredictable self. (However, it will invite you to a press conference announcing how much money it has raised to forever end the scourge of dishpan hands.)
Ditka is the guy who threw a wad of chewing gum at a woman during a bad loss in San Francisco in 1987. Can you imagine the storm that would produce today? And the fun? Remember fun?
A statement from an off-duty police officer whose job was to escort Ditka that day is instructive:
“He stopped and looked at the people sitting in the pullout seats. He then took a piece of gum from his mouth and threw it (at the woman), striking her in the back of the head. Coach Ditka then ‘flipped the bird’ with his left hand and exited the field.’’
The Bears have hired the anti-Ditka with every new head coach they’ve brought in since firing him, running in horror from everything the outsized coach stood for. Glorious frankness being one of them.