Tuesday, December 28
'85 Bears were a one of a kind
By Brian Murphy
Special to ESPN.com

 They weren't here to start no trouble.

They were just here to do the Super Bowl shuffle.

It couldn't have been nearly 15 years since the 1985 Chicago Bears rolled through the nation's imagination like William (The Refrigerator) Perry on a dive play, could it?

Fifteen years? That means kids today don't know "The Super Bowl Shuffle," the rap video cut by the team that, by today's standards, was neither a rap nor a video. Just a bunch of Bears standing around in their uniforms, white men dancing awkwardly (remember Gary Fencik, a Yale graduate for God's sake, and his spastic rhythms?) tossing out rhymes that DMX or Dr. Dre would have written only if on cough syrup.

William Perry
The Fridge scored a touchdown in the Bears' 46-10 Super Bowl win over the Patriots.

I'm the punky QB known as McMahon
When I hit the turf I don't got no plan.

I just throw my body all over the field
I can't dance but I can throw the pill.

I motivate the cats, I like to tease
I play so cool, I aim to please.

Jim McMahon in the headbands! And the shades! With the spiky hair! Guy looked like an extra from "Flashdance." Who would be caught dead in that look today? Yet he appeared the ultimate anti-hero, the rebel with a cause: to tweak the NFL establishment, right down to his mooning of a helicopter at a Super Bowl practice in New Orleans.

Well they call me Sweetness and I like to dance
Runnin' the ball is like making romance.

Jesus, it has been that long. Walter Payton, who piped out that line sporting a Jheri-curl and a trademark falsetto, is dead. That's how much time has passed since we had a championship team as fun as the Bears, a championship team as devastating as the Bears, who allowed a total of 10 points in three playoff games, including the Super Bowl XX win over the hopelessly overmatched New England Patriots on January 26, 1986 at the Superdome.

Hey, the Patriots at least did better than the Giants and Rams in the NFC playoffs. Their combined point total in the postseason at windy Soldier Field (which then had AstroTurf, remember): Zero points.

They were fun, weren't they? The most personality-laden team of the Super Bowl era in the NFL. Take your pick of memories. They have to start with coach Mike Ditka, who worked his gum so hard on the sidelines he must have fractured a mandible. You have to go that defense, the so-called "46" defense, named in honor of retired Bears safety Doug Plank's jersey number, the defense crafted by that crazy little guy named Buddy Ryan, the cantankerous leader of the best defense you ever saw, and the genius who turned them loose after the quarterback in a way the NFL had never seen before.

Man, they carried Ryan off the field after winning the Super Bowl! It was the first time in NFL history a coordinator had been so glorified, and changed the way we thought about coaching staffs and their influences.

But the Bears were so much more than X's and O's.

The Bears stole Chicago's heart when Michael Jordan was in his NBA diapers. And in some minds around Chicago, the Bears remain the sweetest of memories, even better than Michael. The town hadn't won a championship of any kind since 1963, and here were the swaggering Bears, taking on the personality of their town perhaps like no other sports team of the century. You never forget your first time, and for so many Chicagoans, the Bears were that first time.

Da Bears
Chicago rolled to an 18-1 record in 1985:

Regular season
Bears 38, Buccaneers 28
Bears 20, Patriots 7
Bears 33, Vikings 24
Bears 45, Redskins 10
Bears 27, Buccaneers 19
Bears 26, 49ers 10
Bears 23, Packers 7
Bears 27, Vikings 9
Bears 16, Packers 10
Bears 24, Lions 3
Bears 44, Cowboys 0
Bears 36, Falcons 0
Dolphins 38, Bears 24
Bears 17, Colts 10
Bears 19, Jets 6
Bears 37, Lions 17

Bears 21, Giants 0
Bears 24, Rams 0

Super Bowl
Bears 46, Patriots 10

Your memories have to move on to The Fridge, the novelty act at defensive tackle who couldn't stop eating and couldn't stay out of the headlines. Ditka used The Fridge as a running back at the goal line, an unbelievable piece of schtick that, 15 years later, still seems preposterous. But it was pure Ditka: he was using The Fridge as a statement. See, the Bears had been shut out in the 1984 NFC championship game by the 49ers and Bill Walsh, who served as a nemesis for Ditka throughout the '80s. Walsh had used a lineman named Guy McIntyre as the lead blocker out of the backfield in a formation he called "Angus," and it was revolutionary and it was attention-getting and it pissed Ditka right off.

So, given the chance, Ditka trumped The Genius. And on the biggest of stages, too: He let the The Fridge score from the 1-yard line in the Super Bowl.

Outrageous theater! So outrageous, in fact, that it may have been the only negative in the whole season -- well, that, and their only loss of the year, the Monday night stumble in Miami, a 38-24 loss to a young Dan Marino when the Bears were 12-0. See, when the The Fridge scored, it meant Payton never scored in a Super Bowl. Word in Chicago was that Payton was furious about this moment being stolen from him, but Sweetness, true to his magnanimous nature, never let it be a public issue, handling it all with characteristic grace.

But it couldn't be any other way, could it? Ditka had huevos the size of footballs, and while kids today only know him as the nutbag making his slow descent into madness in New Orleans, he remains the swaggering champion in Chicago's heart, and still the proud owner of "Iron Mike's" restaurant in Chicago. When Ditka was hired in New Orleans, Chicago TV stations carried the breaking news live. In Chicago lore, it's Payton, Jordan, Ernie Banks and Ditka, in no particular order. For the love of Matt Suhey, they made "Saturday Night Live" skits about the man! Name another sports figure or team that could pull that off. Nobody but Da Bears, that's who.

"One of the biggest fears in football was going to meet with Ditka if you played a bad game," said Tom Thayer, a longtime Bears offensive lineman. "After film sessions, you could tell how good or bad you played by the size of the sweat rings on your shirt."

Yes, the defense will always be the reason that team was amazing -- ends Dan Hampton and Richard Dent, tackles Perry and Steve McMichael, linebackers Mike Singletary, Otis Wilson and Wilbur Marshall, and safeties Dave Duerson and Gary Fencik. The cornerbacks, Mike Richardson and Leslie Frazier, were mere window dressing. When the Bears turned those other nine men loose at the line of scrimmage, forget it. No quarterback left a game against the Bears thinking about Richardson and Frazier on the corners.

They left games thinking about Singletary's eyes.

I'm Samurai Mike and I stop 'em cold
Part of the defense, big and bold.

But the Bears' defense was only part of the story. Looking back, we remember the Bears' brassiness right up until the Super Bowl. McMahon was advised by the league to stop wearing his headbands, so what did McMahon do? He not only wore headbands in the Super Bowl, but wrote special messages on them for each quarter of the game. One read "PLUTO," a message to a college buddy of McMahon's. Another got political and read "POW," to raise awareness. Still another was a salute to the mean old man who tried to quell McMahon's spirit. It simply read: "ROZELLE."

This after McMahon mooned that TV helicopter and, reportedly, called the women of New Orleans "sluts" during Super Bowl week.

Do we get that comedy today? No way. Have we ever seen a defense like them since? No way. Has Ditka ever re-captured that magic? No way.

The very next year, in fact, Ryan left for the head coaching job in Philadelphia. The Bears never made it back to the Super Bowl, an idea that still galls some Chicagoans, who think that squad should have been a dynasty.

It wasn't, but it was one hell of a fun year.

Even if they couldn't rap worth a lick.

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Examiner writes a weekly NFL column for ESPN.com.

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