From the archive: Bears win Super Bowl 32 years ago

SHARE From the archive: Bears win Super Bowl 32 years ago

William “Refrigerator” Perry spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown for the Bears in Super Bowl XX. (AP)

It had been 22 years since any major sports franchise had won a sports title in Chicago. The Blackhawks and White Sox had some close calls. The Bulls and a young Michael Jordan were still looking for their first. The Cubs were still dealing with Goat Curses. But coach Mike Ditka, who played on their last championship team in 1963, helped the Bears’ glory years return with a cast of characters the nation had never seen before or after. At the time, it looked like this dominant team would be getting fitted for multiple Super Bowl rings. As it turned out, the Shufflin’ Bears were never able to return. Here’s how Chicago Sun-Times columnist Ron Rapaport recounted the Bears’ Super Bowl victory on Jan. 26, 1986 in New Orleans.



Pigskin victor of the world,

Helmet breaker, sacker of quarterbacks,

Toyer with opponents and the nation’s headhunters:

City of the Swelled Chest.

NEW ORLEANS—When it happened, when it finally happened and 22 years of frustration were redeemed, it all looked so easy.

All the Bears had to do was line up, look the New England Patriots in the eye and it was done. If it was as easy as all this, you could not help asking yourself, why had it taken so long?

Oh, the Bears did the Super Bowl Stumble for a moment en route to their 46-10 victory over New England yesterday. They fumbled the ball, they gave the Patriots a quick field goal, they fell behind and surely some hearts began to flutter.

But not for long, they didn’t, and not for good.

All the Bears had to do was get the ball back and score. And then get it back again and score again. And again. And again. And again.

Soon, it was over. Not officially, not on the clock, but over nonetheless.

By then, they were on their way to scoring more points than any team had ever done in 19 previous Super Bowls.

By then, they were on their way to the biggest margin of victory in Super Bowl history.

By then, they were on their way to proving themselves if not the best team in Super Bowl lore, then certainly the most opportunistic.

What else can you say about a team that saves its highest point-scoring output of the season along with its best defensive effort for the spotlight of the Super Bowl?

What else can you say about a team that bullied its way through the season, shut out its opponents in the playoffs, mouthed off all week long in the days preceding the Super Bowl and then brought its finger-snapping, tongue-protruding swagger to a peak in the game itself?

By the second half, when the Bears were so relaxed that they were laughing their way through another chapter in the “Refrigerator” touchdown saga, it was just another dull Super Bowl.

Not in Chicago, though. Not after all the win-starved seasons of punchless offense and porous defense that had come before. Attention may have wandered before television sets around the nation, but it was party time in Illinois.

“It probably got boring to a lot of fans,” said Bear wide receiver Ken Margerum after the game. “It was kind of boring actually. I almost wish it was a closer game so people would have seen his talents more.”

The talents Margerum was referring to, of course, were those of Jim McMahon. From center stage all week to center stage yesterday, the Bear quarterback hardly missed a step.

There were no bare rear ends yesterday and no needles, verbal or metallic. But even before the game started McMahon seemed to be everywhere.

Disdaining the team bus, he showed up at the Superdome in a cab. As he approached the building, the vehicle’s horn began to sound and there he was, leaning out of the window, waving, shaking hands and stopping traffic. It was, for a quarterback who was about to play in a Super Bowl, an amazing sight.

If there were any other doubts that McMahon might be affected by the pressure of the moment, these were quickly dispelled in the locker room before the game.

“We had the music going,” Margerum said. “The guys were all screwing around and relaxed. Even more so than before an exhibition game. He wasn’t worried at all. Jim doesn’t feel pressure. He’s oblivious to pressure. Whether you’re in the huddle with him in practice or in the Super Bowl, it’s the same with him.”

This was quickly proved during the game when McMahon tied a Super Bowl

record by running for two touchdowns and connected on 12 of 20 passes for 256 yards.

Indeed, combine the efficiency of the way McMahon ran the offense with the relentless pressure applied by the defense and the game turned into the easiest the Bears have had in the playoffs and one of their most effortless of the season.

“I think we could have scored a few more,” McMahon said. “We were going for 60, and we couldn’t get them. We ran out of time.”

Jim McMahon, Kevin Butler and Keith Van Horne begin to celebrate during Super Bowl XX. (AP)

Jim McMahon, Kevin Butler and Keith Van Horne begin to celebrate during Super Bowl XX. (AP)

During the week, McMahon was sent hundreds of headbands as a result of the “Rozelle” he inked onto the one he wore last week. He went through them and wore headbands calling attention to the campaign against diabetes, the United Way, the search for POWs and MIAs, and Dan Plater, his former college receiver who recently underwent brain surgery.McMahon showed up for his postgame press conferences wearing first a multicolored headband with blinking lights on it and then a set of black sunglasses that were cross-hatched with white lines. Despite his casual attitude, though, he said the Super Bowl triumph left him surprisingly empty.

“It’s not the kind of feeling I thought we’d have after we won the Super Bowl,” he said. “You’re supposed to be on top of the world, but right now I feel like it’s just another ballgame.”

McMahon also was upset that while William Perry was able to add to his legend by running for another touchdown, Walter Payton’s first Super Bowl did not result in a score.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t get No. 34 in the end zone,” he said. “I don’t think we used Walter as much as we should have or could have today. To go 11 years and finally get in the Super Bowl and not score a touchdown, I know Walter’s not feeling too good right now.”

McMahon also took the blame for Payton’s first-quarter fumble that resulted in New England’s field goal.

“It was my fault,” he said. “I made the wrong call.”

He made the right call on his touchdown runs, though. Running an

option from the 2-yard line in the second quarter, he took off to his

left, saw a small opening and bulled into the end zone between two defenders. In the third period, he tumbled over the goal line on a quarterback sneak from the 1.

In the next few days, most of the fans will have made their way back home, where they will wait out the winter and in time get revved up for the promises, and perhaps the disappointments, of another sport and another season. But for this one afternoon, they had what they had wanted for so long. There will be time enough for worrying another day.

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