Thank God the Internet, as we know it today, had not been invented when the Bears made their one and only march to a Super Bowl championship.
That 1985 season, which ended with the Bears’ 46-10 rout of the Patriots in the appropriately numeraled Super Bowl XX in New Orleans on Jan. 26, 1986, might have gone down as pure bedlam had camera phones, Twitter, Facebook and blogs been the norm.
I’ll give you an example.
At defensive end Mike Hartenstine’s birthday party, safety Gary Fencik, all 6-1, 195 pounds of him, had started talking trash with his D-line teammates on a lovely summer night. Fencik was resplendent in immaculate tennis whites and tennis shoes. (“I have to admit, I looked pretty good that night,’’ he would recall.)
After a couple of drinks, Fencik got to saying that if he were bigger, he’d “beat the s— out of you guys.’’
“But you’re not,’’ someone replied. And several large players threw him to the ground and dragged him around the greasy-bar parking lot like a mop. “I made you squeal like a piggy,’’ Steve “Mongo’’ McMichael reminded him once the partying resumed.
All of them, Fencik included, thought it was hilarious.
Now, imagine videos of that on the news at 10.
Of course, it was a different era, one that would see the electronic contrivances of modern times not quite fleshed out, though the emotional frenzy was there.
WSCR-AM (670), Chicago’s first all-sports radio station, was still seven years from launching. And there was no such thing as online sports news or gossip coming from TMZ or Deadspin or anyplace but supermarket tabloids, and those left sports alone to concentrate on cheating politicians and fat-gaining starlets.
Yet fans in Chicago, and increasingly around the country, could not get enough of the beloved Bears. But they had to get it mainly from TV stations and newspapers, whose reporters went home at night. Quite often that was when the Bears went out and roared. But there were no selfies, no FaceTime-ing, no security cameras everywhere to document it all.
Drones? They’re not here in full force yet. But with their little snoop cameras, one shudders to think what they would’ve picked up at Bears camp 30 years ago.
How about Walter Payton and his explosives? To talk with “Sweetness’’ back then was to often have the conversation come around to M-80s and cherry bombs and the like. And always, Payton would claim the small explosions around Halas Hall had nothing to do with him.
And to think of our current fears of terrorism and what having a little gunpowder on your hands might mean when getting processed at O’Hare? Hello. Payton nowadays would be lucky not to be one of the last detainees at Guantanamo.
Of course, Sweetness’ early death from liver cancer was just one of the many things — both tragic and magical — we could never have predicted from that special team.
It’s for sure there would have been a lot more problems with the law, as we have come to know it, had DUI laws been enforced the way they are today, or perhaps public profanity edicts or even too-much-weight-in-elevator rules.
Coach Mike Ditka was a walking sound bite himself, but when he put 310-pound rookie William “Refrigerator’’ Perry in the offensive backfield and gave him the ball, it was so crazily effective, it would have been the most tweeted sports moment of the century, had tweets existed.
Fridge himself made millions in endorsements in the months to come, but he might have made tens of millions the way things go global today. As former Sun-Times writer Ray Sons put it, Perry in the backfield “was the best use of fat since the invention of bacon.’’
Not everybody on the team was a partier or oversized or wildly outspoken. There were Jim McMahon and Keith Van Horne and Willie Gault. But there was also Pro Bowl middle linebacker Mike Singletary, 6 feet tall with a 20-inch neck and the quiet passion of a born-again minister.
In the NFC Championship Game against the Rams, Singletary knocked Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson back through an open hole as if the man had been detonated.
“I don’t feel pain from a hit like that,’’ Singletary told me after the game. “What I feel is joy. Joy for the tackle. Joy for myself. Joy for the other man. You understand me; I understand you. It’s just . . . good for everybody.’’
So be it. What a happy time.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.