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Remembering the '85 Bears who are gone and those who are struggling

William Perry talks to media members Tuesday on the 30th anniversary of the Bears' Super Bowl victory. (Vincent D. Johnson/for Sun-Times Media)

If you watched the TV news or saw the newspaper photos, you know that many of the members of the 1985 Bears who gathered for their 30th reunion Tuesday looked pretty good.

Oh, there were some limps, as one would expect from a group of former football players. Hips and knees either have been replaced or are on their way to being replaced. Overall, though, many of the guys looked fairly well preserved since they won the Super Bowl 30 years ago to the day.

But three decades is a long time, and no group of men of a certain age is immune to the challenges of life. It was impossible not to think about those who had passed away and those who have struggled with health problems.

Walter Payton, one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, died in 1999 from bile duct cancer.

Safety Dave Duerson committed suicide in 2011. Doctors later found that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to concussions.

Offensive line coach Dick Stanfel died in June, and offensive coordinator Ed Hughes passed away in 2000.

Defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, 81, has been battling cancer for several years.

Some of the players who were able to make it to the reunion have been in poor health. Defensive tackle William Perry, who uses a wheelchair, has dealt with serious health issues for years. After attending a Bears game earlier this month, he had to be hospitalized because of a leg infection.

Quarterback Jim McMahon has battled depression, headaches and early onset dementia, but he says that a recent procedure to adjust his spinal cord has improved his health dramatically.

In 2014, after experiencing dizziness, headaches, an accelerated heart rate and tingling throughout his body, offensive lineman Keith Van Horne joined 1,300 former NFL players in accusing the league of handing out pain killers to mask injuries, leading to later health problems.

The reunion was another reminder that the years race by and that life happens, some of it good, some of it bad.