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Sports Then and Now




25 Years Ago: Da Super Bears

Posted on January 26, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Few teams in sports history have matched the brashness and brilliance of the 1985 Bears.

It is difficult to believe that it has actually been 25 years since the Chicago Bears completed one of the most dominant seasons in NFL history with a 46-10 thrashing of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

Though it has now been 25 years ago since their Super Bowl victory, the 1985 Bears still hold special place in the memories of many football fans as much because of the larger-than-life personalities as for their dominant performances on the field.

The images of Jim McMahon mooning a helicopter, Walter Payton running through tacklers, William Perry plowing into the end zone and Wilber Marshall running through the snow to a game clinching score are still fresh in the memory.

The Bears didn’t just beat opponents, they punished them. Of their 15 regular season victories, only four were not double digit victories.

They made two proud franchises look old and out-manned with a 45-10 victory over the Washington Redskins and a 44-0 white-wash of the Dallas Cowboys.

Only a 38-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football in week 13 kept them from a perfect season.

But even that loss didn’t stymie the confidence and brashness of the Bears. The day after that loss, members of the team gathered to shoot their “Super Bowl Shuffle” video.

They then went out and out-scored their final three regular season opponents 73-33 to finish with a 15-1 regular season mark.

The previous season, the Bears had reached the NFC Championship Game, only to lose to the San Francisco 49ers.

This time around the Bears left little doubt that they would be the NFC representative in Super Bowl XX.

Which Was the Best Single Season NFL Team in the Super Bowl Era?

  • 1985 Chicago Bears (18-1) (26%, 21 Votes)
  • 1972 Miami Dolphins (17-0) (20%, 16 Votes)
  • 2004 New England Patriots (17-2) (10%, 8 Votes)
  • 1984 San Francisco 49ers (18-1) (10%, 8 Votes)
  • 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers (17-2) (10%, 8 Votes)
  • 1966 Green Bay Packers (14-2) (7%, 6 Votes)
  • 1991 Washington Redskins (17-2) (5%, 4 Votes)
  • 1998 Denver Broncos (17-2) (5%, 4 Votes)
  • 1977 Dallas Cowboys (15-2) (4%, 3 Votes)
  • 1989 San Francisco 49ers (17-2) (4%, 3 Votes)
  • 1992 Dallas Cowboys (16-3) (1%, 1 Votes)
  • 1976 Oakland Raiders (16-1) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 82

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Chicago blanked the New York Giants 21-0 and then held Eric Dickerson and the Los Angeles Rams scoreless in a 24-0 rout.

That victory was punctuated by Wilber Marshall’s 52-yard fumble return during which the skies opened up and snow came down as he rumbled to the end zone.

Prior to the Super Bowl, many expected to see the first shutout in Super Bowl history. In fact, many of the Bears predicted such.

However, the New England Patriots capitalized on an early turnover to kick a field goal for a 3-0 advantage.

That seemed to do little more than make the Bears angry as they quickly recovered to score 13 points in the first quarter and take a 23-3 lead at halftime.

The pounding continued in the third quarter as Chicago scored three third quarter touchdowns to take a dominating 44-3 lead.

After New England scored a touchdown early in the fourth period, the Bears punctuated the victory and the season with a safety to account for the final margin.

In today’s era of the “No Fun League” it may be hard for fans that didn’t experience the 1985 Bears to truly appreciate the passion and character of that team.

The Bears had an edge and brashness that started at the top.

The Bears didn't just carry one coach off the field following their Super Bowl win.

Only the Bears would carry two coaches off the field as some carried head coach Mike Ditka while others carried defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan.  Those two didn’t get along, but neither was ever as good without the other as neither again reached a Super Bowl.

Quarterback Jim McMahon will never gain entry into the Hall of Fame, but he was the perfect quarterback for this blue-collar team. McMahon had the mentality and toughness of an offensive lineman, but made the big play when it was needed.

Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton was still near the top of his game in 1985 as he rushed for 1,551 yards and nine touchdowns. Much has been made of the fact that he didn’t score a touchdown in Super Bowl XX as it would have seemed fitting as a cap to his wonderful career. However, Payton was so important to the Bears franchise that not scoring a touchdown in the final game doesn’t do anything to negate his contributions to that team or overall greatness.

Someone who did score in that game was William “Refrigerator” Perry. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds, Perry was larger than most players of his era, but yet had a surprising amount of athleticism. Ditka inserted him in the backfield as a blocker for short yardage situations and his girth and personality soon enveloped the team.

He scored a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football and from that point he became a national phenomenon. Perry reportedly earned more than $4 million for endorsements during the 1985 season even though he scored only three regular season touchdowns and started just nine games on defense.

There were many other great players on that squad and just about every one of them capitalized in some manner on the success.

It has been described that just about every offensive lineman and backup quarterback on that team had a radio show and was on a poster. Without question, few sports teams from any sport have so captured the attention and personality of a city the way the Bears did in 1985.

They have been called by many the best single season team in NFL history and they are certainly in any discussion for that honor. However, there is no question that they were the most colorful championship team in NFL history with a set of personalities that we will likely never see again.

In case you just can’t believe them for yourself, check out the Super Bowl Shuffle below. It didn’t win any Grammy’s, but is a great chronicle of the team and the times. Enjoy!


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