Has it really been 30 years?
OK, I’m being facetious. We’ve been reminded over and over again this season that it has been 30 years since the 1985 Bears took the city on a party-bus ride from which it has never really recovered nor wanted to. The players hanging out of the windows were so much fun and the domination on the field so complete that if there were such a thing as a civic obsession, this would be it.
And, perhaps you’ve heard, the Bears haven’t won a Super Bowl since. Not that anyone’s counting.
It will not go unnoticed that the Bears’ opponent in that title game 30 years ago Tuesday were the Patriots, who have won four titles since losing 46-10 to Mike Ditka’s team. Not that anyone’s counting.
The championship vacuum that set in for the Bears after that victory is also a big part of the allure of the ’85 team. When you collect Super Bowl titles like baseball cards, as New England does, perhaps there are too many good players and teams and memories to focus on just one.
We have no such problem here.
Despite the Super Bowl drought, that championship 30 years ago can never be bittersweet. There wasn’t a guy on the roster nicknamed Bitterness. There was a guy nicknamed Sweetness. There was also a Mongo and a Danimal. There was Ditka and Buddy Ryan getting along like two alpha dogs. There was Jim McMahon’s whole act. Mike Singletary’s eyes. The Fridge’s width.
You never knew what words were going to roll off Ditka’s tongue. That say-anything attitude spoke to a city that wanted it straight, with no bull spit. And that outspokenness, from many of the players as well, has gone missing from a league much more concerned about image than truth.
The swagger figures into the enduring legacy of the 1985 team. It was dominant, it knew it was dominant and it was going to let you know, in the joyous way it lived life on and off the field, that it was dominant. These days, too many coaches and teams don’t want to let you know a thing. State secrets, and all that.
Nine players from the ’85 team made the Pro Bowl. Steve McMichael didn’t, but he was voted first-team All-Pro. Three members of Ryan’s “46 Defense’’ made it to the Hall of Fame: Hampton, Singletary and Richard Dent.
Of the 22 starters on offense and defense, 16 had been Bears’ draft picks and three had been signed as undrafted rookie free agents. Nine were first-round picks. That’s called scouting.
Maybe it was all too good to be true and too much for any one city to handle. Maybe somebody up there said, “You will be given one of the most dominant teams in NFL history. You will be given the ride of your life with a set of characters a novelist couldn’t make up. Their flame will burn bright, but they will be your only light for a long, long time.’’
Was it worth it? Judging by the grip the 1985 Bears still have on this city, it appears it very much was.
And yet, how about those Patriots?