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1985 Bears Coverage: First Irish game No. 1 to Duerson

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.

First Irish game No. 1 to Duerson

Dan Pompei

Originally published Jan. 18, 1986

Sure, the Super Bowl is big. But it won’t compare to one college game for strong safety Dave Duerson.

The first-year starter and Pro Bowler says his first game at Notre Dame meant more to him than the Super Bowl will.

“The Super Bowl means money, but we’re talking about emotions,” Duerson said. “The first game at Notre Dame was bigger from the standpoint of emotion. You go through that tunnel, get introduced and you can play on emotion alone.”

Being introduced at the Super Bowl will give Duerson a feeling similar to the one he had being introduced at Notre Dame Stadium, he thinks.

“Goose bumps,” Duerson said.

SPIT IT OUT: How does quarterback Jim McMahon motivate his offensive line?

“He yells and curses and spits at you,” offensive tackle Keith Van Horne says.

And how does 6-7, 280-pound Van Horne react to indignant treatment from his 6-1, 190-pound quarterback?

“I spit back and curse back,” Van Horne said. “It’s all just to get us going. No one takes it personally and he brings out the best in people.”

CLASSIC: Middle linebacker Mike Singletary has been spending time with Bach and Beethoven lately.

The music is not part of an effort to get pumped up. It’s part of an effort to get the ultraintense linebacker pumped down.

He’s also taking long walks and deep breaths.

“I’ve got butterflies now,” Singletary said. “I’m trying to cool down.”

This is more than a week before the game, mind you.

“I think it’s going to be hard to keep a lid on it until we hit the field,” Singletary said.

NOT RETIRING: Don’t look for 10th-year free safety Gary Fencik to retire if the Bears win the Super Bowl.

Fencik’s season has been remarkably injury-free, and physically he feels he can play several more years.

If the Bears were the same old Bears they’ve been for most of his career, however, Fencik would seriously consider retiring.

“I’ve waited too long to say, `I’ve been on top one year, I’ve had my taste of the top and I’m leaving,’ ” Fencik said. “The next couple of years this team will still be at the top, and I want to be part of the challenge to do it again.”

The only physical problems Fencik has had this year are fluid on his knee and a broken finger. He will have arthroscopic surgery on his knee at the end of the season.

PRO BOWLING: Duerson has been surprised for two straight seasons the day Pro Bowl selections were announced.

This year, his first as a starter, he was surprised to be named to the team.

Last year, as a reserve, he was surprised he wasn’t named as a special teams player.

The Bears sent Duerson to Hawaii at Pro Bowl time anyway as their special teams player of the year.

Duerson says his biggest change this year is his understanding of the defense. Two years ago, he was confusing Notre Dame plays with Bears plays in games.

“With greater understanding, you can play a little more freely,” Duerson said. “When you’re thinking too hard, you have a tendency to get caught up and not move around like you can.”

Duerson expects similar improvement next season, when his goal will be 16 interceptions. He had five this year.

“I thought one per game would be realistic,” he said.