FOLLOWING OVER TWO decades of title drought, the Chicago Bears managed to come back with a vengeance. Assembling a team which had both a potent offensive unit as well as a most brutally efficient defense (which was a Chicago tradition), the 1985 edition of the "Monsters of the Midway."
THE STORY OF this once in a lifetime team began three years earlier. At that time, Chicago Bears owner and National Football League patriarch, George Halas made a decision to hire Mike Ditka as Head Coach. The choice was a great surprise to just about everyone; as Ditka (now better known by the very affectionate nickname "Da Coach")had been a critic of Halas' frugality years earlier, while Mike was the Bears' Tight End.*
THE CRITIQUE OF the Coach/Owner led to Ditka's being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for QB Jack Concannon (from Boston College). Mike's next trade would lead him Dallas where he would also get his first coaching experience.
ALTHOUGH THIS BEARS 1985 edition was truly, universally proclaimed to be 'awesome', theirs' was a feat accomplished with what we must call a "dysfunctional family". There was a great schism between the Offense and Defensive from the very beginning. This was cause of many to declare that the Bears were essentially two teams.
THE PROBLEM AROSE with Mr.Halas' decision to put Ditka in the drivers' seat, as Head Coach. This was a great disappointment to Defensive Coordinator, Buddy Ryan; who had been with Chicago ever since 1978. Buddy had his sights on a top coaching spot. While the two never really meshed together, they did manage to get the job done.
SO IT CAME to pass that this team would have their first appearance in The Super Bowl. It would be the New England Patriots who would have the honor of facing the Bears for all the bragging rights. We watched as Ryan's unit applied their famed 46 Zone defense plied their trade in decimating the Pats' scoring machine, while on the offensive side of things, the Bears methodically put the points up on the board.
ONE TULY SAD story and down side for Chicago was that the pleasure and record book entry of a touchdown for number 34, Walter Payton was not to be. Ironically as it is, it did not come to be as the scoring was spread among the others (including a TD by # 72, William Perry).
WHEREAS OUR MEMORY placed much blame on the Coach, Offensive Unit and the Game plan, it doesn't appear to hold true. A recent viewing of the NBC telecast of January 26, 1986 told a somewhat different story. Rather than what memory through the rose-tinted prism recollected, we saw a New England team that concentrated their defense on keying what Walter did. Whenever he got a carry, he was met by a swarm of Patriot defenders, ditto for the pass coverage.
IT WAS THIS strategy that turned Payton into the greatest of decoys, allowing for the others to have a safer passage to the goal line.
AS FOR THE broadcast, there was none better. Dick Enberg did the play by play, with Merlin Olsen as the color man. Sideline reports were the in the capable hands of Bob Greise, former Super Bowl MVP as QB for the Miami Dolphins.
ALTHOUGH WE KNOW that we're not exactly objective about this vintage game, we can offer some less biased, non-Chicagoan-type of evaluation. For it was John Madden, Oakland Raiders Coach for 10 seasons and NFL Television commentator, who proclaimed 1985 to be the greatest NFL season and the Bears as the best ever.
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