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1985 Bears Coverage: Holdout situation hurting

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.

Holdout situation hurting

Kevin Lamb

Originally published Aug. 16, 1985

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – The Bears’ holdouts are liable to be stay-outs. Their teammates have heard that for the last week. “Hopefully, they’ll start accepting it next week,” general manager Jerry Vainisi said yesterday.

The team will be home again, in Lake Forest. There, the absence of defensive stars Mike Singletary, Todd Bell and Al Harris could be more glaring, like an empty chair at the dinner table.

“I think the team is flat from the standpoint of waiting for those guys to come in,” Vainisi said. “They’re still holding out the hope.”

Next week also is important to defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. When the week ends, the season will be two weeks away. “They need two weeks of practice,” he said. “It’s time to get their butts in here.”

Players have reported within a week of the opener and started for other NFL teams, but they rarely play well.

No matter how hard anyone works out on his own, coach Mike Ditka said, “There’s nothing you can do to prepare yourself to play football that will eliminate the soreness from practicing football. I don’t care how good shape you’re in. You’re going to be sore after two or three days.”

After the season begins, Ditka said it will only become harder to welcome someone back with open arms.

“If we start the season without them and they come back,” Ditka said, “how do we explain it to the other people? `Thanks for your loyalty but here’s a bus ticket and a hamburger. You’re going home’?”

On yesterday’s Mike Ditka radio show on WMAQ (670), Chet Coppock asked the Bear coach if chances were down to 50-50 that Singletary would start the season.

“I’ll go farther than that,” Ditka replied. “There’s zero percent chance of Mike returning. That’s just the way it’s gonna be. No use in us losing any sleep over it. Let’s just let it die.

TRADE TALK: The Miami Dolphins showed some interest in trading for Harris before acquiring linebacker Robin Sendlein from the Vikings yesterday in the Anthony Carter deal.

But when they learned what the Bears were offering Harris to sign, Vainisi said, “They didn’t want to go any higher.” Vainisi said the Dolphins were the third team to tell him that.

The Bears were not hoping to pick up Carter, even though their wide receiver situation is clouded by injuries. They’re still looking for a second first-round pick in next year’s draft, when two No. 1s might bring a high enough pick to draft a franchise running back.

ROUND APPLAUSE: Ditka wondered what people were picturing when they thought of William Perry before his first game. All they knew was he weighed about 330 pounds, played defensive tackle and reported to training camp out of shape.

“I think people expected to see someone standing out there stationary, and if anybody came near him he’d clutch them like a flytrap,” Ditka said. “That’s not what he is. He’s a football player. He’s not a fat man. He’s a big man with some fat on him.”

After a week and a half of practices, Ditka already is seeing better weight distribution, better strength, quicker movement. Perry has limitations. “He’s never going to run that 20-yard sprint as good as defensive end Richard Dent does – or as good as Dent could,” Ditka said.

But as Perry’s stamina improves, Ditka expects he might even try to outmaneuver some blockers
instead of merely trampling them.

“I’ve played against some guys coming into this league who are in the Hall of Fame,” Ditka said. “They weren’t every spectacular in their first games.

“William has a long way to go to make himself go hard on every play. But I think he showed when he’s going, he’s going and he’s tough.”

L.A. EXPRESS: Cornerback Mike Richardson’s nickname throughout camp has been “L.A.” Ryan calls him that to remind him of his bad games on the West Coast last year.

In May, Ryan reminded Richardson of his lapses by demoting him to second string. But he was a starter again when camp began.

Ditka says he has had “a very good camp,” covering receivers tightly and aggressively.

“When you get mad at a guy and demote him, you can’t be stupid,” Ryan says. “If he’s your best football player, you want him playing.

“He’s got more ability probably than any of our corners. It was just a matter of waking him up, getting him to take his job seriously.”

SAFE AND SOUND: One of the most significant plays of last week’s exhibition game didn’t count because of offsetting penalties. On third down, quarterback Jim McMahon ran for a first down. Then he ran out of bounds.

“A year ago, I suspect he probably would have turned it up and tried to get away from the guy who was chasing him,” Ditka said.

That doesn’t mean Ditka expects McMahon to choose the safe route every time. He wishes, for example, that McMahon would slide feet first instead of head first.

“I think it’ll be a progressing thing,” Ditka said. “It won’t happen immediately.”

HAPPY ENDING: Ditka gave the players yesterday morning off and shortened their afternoon practice. The Bears’ last Platteville practice ended with last-second field goal practice.

Bob Thomas lined up to make the last kick. Defensive tackle Steve McMichael, the Bears’ emergency placekicker, is more than 80 pounds bigger than Thomas. He decided he would make the last kick.

It fell more than 10 yards short.