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1985 Bears Coverage: Bears lukewarm on chill factor

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 lukewarm on chill factor

Herb Gould

Originally published Dec. 27, 1985

Tell the truth, guys. If the weather is hovering around zero – with a nearly unbearable wind-chill factor – on playoff day in Soldier Field, is that really Bear weather?

“Hopefully,” said tackle Keith Van Horne. “The coaches keep telling us that’s what we’ve been working for all season – the home field in the playoffs.”

How you cope with the cold is another matter. “Don’t ask me. I’m from California,” Van Horne said. “The worst part is the wind. No, the worst part is the TV timeouts. Because then you’re just standing around.”

“If Bear weather is what it is, that’s what we’ve got to have. It’s got to be to our advantage,” said linebacker Mike Singletary, whose only regret is that he was born into an Astroturf world that affords little opportunity to roll around in “the mud and blood” like the Bears of yore.

“The colder the better,” said fullback Matt Suhey, noting that inclement weather wastes passing attacks quicker than the Refrigerator downs Big Macs. “I hope it’s 90 below. The way our offense is set up, we do very well running the ball. And our defense does very well against the run.”

But wouldn’t you really rather play in – oh, say, a balmy 28 or 30 degrees?

“It’s going to be a good day no matter what the weather,” said wide receiver Willie Gault. “It would be a good day if it was 30 below, as long as they throw the ball to me.”

But some members of the NFC Central’s finest wouldn’t mind just being Chicago Bears, not polar bears. “Some guys are crowing about the home-field advantage,” defensive end Dan Hampton said. “But it’s no advantage to me. I’d much rather it be 50 degrees and sunny. But if the other guys think it helps, fine.”

Knowing that it’s likely to be nippy, wideout Ken Margerum is voting for preparedness as the Bears get ready for their opening playoff game Jan. 5 against either the New York Giants or the San Francisco 49ers.

The black rubber scuba gloves some players use are too thick for receivers to feel the ball, Margerum said, while leather batting gloves easily become cold and stiff in inclement weather.

“Wearing gloves, with the ball coming in wobbly, it’s a different type of receiving,” said Margerum, a Californian. “I haven’t found any gloves that I’m real comfortable with. I was almost going to call my brother and have him send out my wind-surfing gloves.

“I think it would be wise to practice in Soldier Field a couple of times,” Margerum said. “It would be uncomfortable to practice in, but we may as well get used to it.”

William “Refrigerator” Perry, who is playing his first season in icebox conditions, has already adopted the “Bear weather” philosophy.

Asked what the 49ers might think about playing in a frigid Soldier Field, Perry said, “If they come here and it’s 50 or 60 below, they aren’t going to be able to think about it. It’ll just be on ‘em. So I’m not going to think about it. I’ll just be in it.”

Perry, who apparently is not merely enduring the weather just because he signed to endorse long underwear, said, “I’m fine now, ever since that first cold day.”

Added Suhey, “It’s not so much that our guys like it. But they can adjust to it much easier than the West Coast teams.”

Like the Fridge said, if it gives the Niners chills, it ought to warm his heart.