Former Bears star Steve McMichael advances in Hall of Fame pursuit

Bears owner Virginia McCaskey is no longer a candidate this year, but former defensive coordinator Clark Shaughnessy remains a semifinalist.

SHARE Former Bears star Steve McMichael advances in Hall of Fame pursuit
Former Chicago Bear Steve McMichael

Steve McMichael was a key part of the Bears’ championship team and was selected All-Pro twice.

Mark Black/For the Sun-Times

Bears legend Steve McMichael is still in the mix to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next year after making the cut Thursday to a list of 12 senior player candidates. The next reduction is to no more than three final candidates Aug. 22.

Making the Hall would be incredibly meaningful to McMichael, 65, and his wife, Misty, as he battles late-stage ALS. It’s a tough field among the seniors — those who stopped playing no later than 1998 — with four-time All-Pro wide receiver Sterling Sharpe and MVP quarterback Ken Anderson among them. But McMichael’s candidacy is strong. He played 13 of his 15 NFL seasons for the Bears and made his name as an All-Pro defensive tackle for their 1985 championship team. He also made All-Pro in ’87, was second-team All-Pro in ’86 and ’91 and was picked for the Pro Bowl twice. He had 92 ½ sacks and 814 tackles for the Bears — second and third, respectively, in franchise history.

He also went into professional wrestling after finishing his career with the Packers in 1994 and was head coach of the Chicago Slaughter indoor football team from 2007 through 2013.

After a recent visit with McMichael, retired wrestler Ric Flair furthered the push for McMichael to get to Canton.

“If he don’t get into the Hall of Fame . . . He’s got better numbers than Warren Sapp,” Flair told Fox News. “I don’t get it. He’s laying there with ALS. What the hell is wrong with these guys?”

With 95 career sacks, McMichael is ahead of Hall of Famers Bryant Young and Howie Long in that category. Sapp, a fellow defensive tackle inducted in 2013, had 96½.

The expansion of senior committee nominees last year certainly helps McMichael’s chances. That said, it won’t be easy to advance. Beyond Sharpe and Anderson, former All-Pro wide receiver and Super Bowl winner Otis Taylor and four-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle and three-time champion Joe Jacoby are prominent candidates.

Bears owner Virginia McCaskey, who took over for her father, George Halas, in 1983, was among 29 coach/contributor candidates but did not make Thursday’s group of 12 semifinalists. McCaskey, 100, is the longest-tenured owner in the NFL and has maintained a role in the organization while her son George serves as chairman.

Longtime coach Clark Shaughnessy, however, remains a semifinalist. He coached for more than three decades, including from 1933 through ’39 as head coach at University of Chicago and from 1951 through ’62 as Bears defensive coordinator. The team went 83-62-3 when he was on staff. He retired after coaching at the University of Hawaii in 1965 and died in 1970 at 78.

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