Our Pledge To You

News

1985 Bears Coverage: Bears Hampton, Harris staying put

Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Bears Hampton, Harris staying put

Kevin Lamb

Originally published Aug. 22, 1985

Another All-Pro on the Bears’ defense wants his contract improved, and might leave a bigger hole than Mike Singletary or Todd Bell if he walks out in a dispute.

But Dan Hampton doesn’t think it will come to that. He says he won’t leave the team if negotiations continue into the season.

“It’s no big deal,” Hampton said. “First things first. We’ve got to get these other three guys in here before we worry about me.”

“Right now, we more or less have the aura around here of waiting for something to happen. We can’t do that. It’s time to start loading the wagon. If we don’t do it now, we’ll be looking back in October saying, `Why didn’t we do it back then?’ ”

Hampton wants his contract extended beyond this year, when he will make $325,000. The Bears want to extend it, but they have kept negotiations open to maintain his incentive to recover fully from knee
arthroscopy.

“I feel we’ll get something done on him before the season starts,” says general manager Jerry Vainisi.

Hampton is the key in a pass defense that starts with its inside rush. The Bears set an NFL record with 72 sacks last year. The only time they had none was the only game Hampton missed.

He’s the key to a run defense that relies on the tackles to keep the middle linebacker free of blockers. “Mike Singletary wouldn’t be as good a player without Dan in front of him,” one teammate says.

Hampton can reasonably expect contract talks to hover around the figures of other leading NFL defensive linemen. The Jets’ Mark Gastineau will make $675,000 this year, the Raiders’ Howie Long
$600,000, and their total packages average close to $800,000 a year.

“My point is I’ve extended myself physically for this club,” Hampton says. “I’ve played in pain, maybe played when I shouldn’t have. I don’t want to put myself in jeopardy of not playing here the next three or four years.”