‘Your name echoes through eternity’: 1985 Bears dominate among 100 years of nostalgia

No former players got the same reactions as the 1985 Bears. And no other players carried themselves the way they still do.

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1985 Bears Jim McMahon, William Perry and Steve McMichael take the stage during the Chicago Bears convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Friday in Rosemont.

Mark Black

The 1985 Bears have won homecoming king 34 years running.

That was particularly clear during the three-day Bears100 Celebration Weekend, which the franchise touted as the largest gathering of past and current players ever. The event, which ended Sunday, might have been the largest assembly of Bears fans outside a stadium, too. The team estimated between 8,000 and 10,000 walked into the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont each day, coming from all 50 states and seven countries.

No former players got the same reactions as the 1985 Bears. And no other players carried themselves the way they still do.

What does it feel like to be a member of the Bears’ most famous team? Former defensive end Steve McMichael, who moments earlier had compared himself to Howard Stern, tried to make a comparison Friday.

‘‘It’s like every year someone is voted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,’’ he said. ‘‘But you’re already in there and get to party with them.’’

He tried another analogy.

‘‘It’s what ‘Gladiator’ meant,’’ he said. ‘‘Russell Crowe said, ‘Your name echoes through eternity.’ That’s some pride, isn’t it?’’

There’s a reason matriarch Virginia McCaskey called the 1985 Bears a ‘‘very unusual team’’ Sunday. McMichael joked that, in 1985, reporters could put a microphone in front of players and not even have to ask a question. The players just would start talking.

Or rapping. One of the largest ovations of the weekend came when former defensive tackle William ‘‘Refrigerator’’ Perry recreated his ‘‘Super Bowl Shuffle’’ verse — ‘‘You’re lookin’ at the Fridge, I’m the rookie/I may be large, but I’m no dumb cookie,’’ it begins — on stage Saturday.

Late running back Walter Payton would have brought mischief to the convention.

‘‘You probably couldn’t stand there if he was in the room,’’ Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent said, ‘‘because you’d want to know where he was at. Because he’d probably be up to something, knowing Walter.’’

Former quarterback Jim McMahon said the 1985 Bears were ‘‘the team that had the most fun — and won.’’

Former center Jay Hilgenberg first declared the current dancing, trick-play-running iteration of the game more fun. Then he thought about it.

‘‘Actually, I doubt that,’’ he said. ‘‘They just show it [more].’’

Former coach Mike Ditka, Hilgenberg said, curbed the players’ on-field behavior. But their off-the-field attitude spread across the world.

Former safety Gary Fencik was on a helicopter ride outside Melbourne, Australia, two years ago when he struck up a conversation with a stranger about playing for the Bears.

‘‘Our brand is so strong that it’s global,’’ he said.

Many consider the 1985 Bears’ defense the best of all time. Chief among them are the players themselves.

‘‘I think the similarities [to this year’s team] are, you have to have a lot of talent,’’ Fencik said. ‘‘It becomes a process, and they’re going to have to go through that.

‘‘You can have one great year, but it doesn’t really matter. Do you wear the ring at the end of the day? [That’s] all that matters.’’

As the franchise enters its 100th season, only one Bears team has that Super Bowl ring.

‘‘The guys I played with, I’m in awe,’’ Dent said. ‘‘I think I played with quite a few Hall of Famers.’’

The convention boasted four — linebacker Mike Singletary, defensive tackle Dan Hampton, Ditka and Dent — from the 1985 team alone. Whenever they’re together next, those players will remain the Bears’ homecoming kings.

That is, unless — until? — the franchise wins another Super Bowl.

‘‘It’s really pretty amazing to think that much time has passed and all those things happened,’’ Singletary said.

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