The Bears are still a pop culture phenomenon 27 years after they captured Super Bowl XX. That 1985 team had a roster full of characters that is unlikely to be seen again. Mike Singletary proclaimed in the Super Bowl Shuffle that he was “part of a defense, big and bold” Bold and brash might be more appropriate.
The 1985 Bears were loud, proud and unapologetic. The would beat you and beat you up. They dominated like few defenses before or since. Only the 2000 Ravens seem to be compared to them.
The Bears entered the game as a 10 point favorite and the over under was 37.5. The Bears obliterated the the over/under 8:44 into the third quarter on a Reggie Phillips interception return for a touchdown. That gave them a 37-3 lead.
The 1985 Bears are considered by many to be the greatest NFL team of all-time and only the 1996 and 1997 Bulls could give them a legitimate run for their money. For anyone that is from Chicago and 35 and over, it was a signature moment in our lives. We all remember where we were and who we watched the game with. The Bears won the Super Bowl on January 26, 1986.
That anniversary is a sweet one in Chicago. All Bears teams will be compared to the 1985 team until they next win a Superbowl. The Bears parade became muted when the space shuttle challenger blew up two days later.
We all have our unique memories of one of the greatest days in Chicago history. Here are the ten moments I remember the most.
Jim McMahon Mooning the Cameras During Practice
No team in the history of american sports may have crossed into pop culture more than the 1985 Bears. The Super Shuffle, the emergence of the ‘fridge and the 46 defense captivated the entire country.
In the week leading up to the game there was a lot of speculation on McMahon’s health. With helicopters hovering overhead, Jimmy Mac dropped trou and mooned the whirlybirds above.
McMahon proved his healthy didn’t matter as he turned in a nearly flawless performance as the Bears won their only super bowl.
Jim McMahon’s pre-game introduction
McMahon’s head bands created a lot of discussion during the Bears Superbowl run. In the divisional playoffs against the Giants, McMahon drew a $5,000 fine for wearing a headband with Adidas clearly printed on it. The following week, McMahon wrote Rozelle on his head band referencing then commissioner Pete Rozelle. According to an ESPN article, Rozelle sent McMahon a note saying that he thought that “was funny as hell”.
He was the last Bear introduced during the pregame introductions and wore a headband honoring juvenile diabetes with “JDF Cure” on his headband.
He would later honor veterans with a headband that said POW-MIA and later honored his friend and wide receiver from BYU Dan Prater by writing Pluto on another headband.
Walter Payton’s Fumble
The Bears Superbowl XX title was the first by one of Chicago’s five major sports teams since the Bears won the then NFL championship in 1963. For over two decades Chicago sports fans became jaded. Chicago baseball coined the term “wait until next year”.
On just the second play of the game, Payton fumbled and the Patriots recovered at the Bears 19. After three straight incomplete passes, the Patriots had to settle for a field goal.
Tony Franklin converted from 36 yards out and gave New England a 3-0 lead 1:19 into the game. It stood as the quickest score in Superbowl history until Superbowl XLI. Ironically the record was broken when Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 14 seconds into the game.
The Bears tied the game on the next drive, took the lead with another field goal in the first quarter and scored the first touchdown at the end of the first quarter. They led 13-3 after the first quarter and never looked back.
Walter Payton post-game in the locker room
Many people criticized Walter Payton after the game for seemingly being upset because he didn’t score a touchdown. Payton commented after the game about not scoring “Yes, I’m disappointed. I feel bad. But that’s the way the game goes.
In an interview with Bob Costas after the game that he wanted to play three more seasons and get to 18,000 yards. He played two more and finished with 16,726.
William “The Refrigerator” Perry’s Touchdown
A 27 yard pass from McMahon to Dennis Gentry on third and 14 from the New England 28 gave the Bears a first and goal from the New England one. Many Bears fans thought that out of courtesy and everything he had done for the Bears, Walter Payton was the obvious choice to receive the carry.
Ditka instead continued to ride the growing legend of William "The Refrigerator" Perry. The Fridge scored on a one yard touchdown run for the Bears last offense points of the game to stretch the lead to 44-3.
Leslie Frazier’s injury
Frazier was a key player and 3.5 year starter for the Bears as they build their team into a Superbowl winner. He intercepted 20 passes between 1982-85. He returned one for a touchdown in 1985.
Frazier suffered a gruesome knee injury that basically ended his career. He never played in the NFL again. It was one of the few dark spots in a game all of Chicago has waited many years for.
Willie Gault’s two long receptions
Willie Gault was the Bears home run threat. The Bears threw the ball only 41.4 percent of the time. When they did throw the ball, they often went deep to Gault. He led the Bears with 704 receiving yards and had a big superbowl.
He had 11 receptions for 253 yards and touchdown in the Bears three playoff games. In the superbowl he finished with four receptions for 129 yards. He had receptions of 60 and 43 yards in the game. He could have been considered an MVP. He was also the one that initiated the Superbowl Shuffle.
Jim McMahon's Touchdowns
Jim McMahon’s two rushing touchdowns led many to believe he should have won the game MVP. They came at almost identical junctures of the second and third quarters.
HIi first came 7:36 into the second quarter and stretched the Bears lead to 20-3 before a Kevin Butler 24 yard field goal on the last play of the first half gave the Bears a 23-3 lead at halftime.
If the Patriots had any hope of a comeback, McMahon’s second touchdown of the game squashed any of those hopes. The punky QB ran the ball in from two yards out 7:38 into the third
quarter blew the game wide open. It put the Bears up 30-3.
Reggie Phillips Interception return for a touchdown
Just 1:06 after McMahon’s second touchdown, Phillips returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown to push the Bears lead to 37-3.
Longtime Patriot Quarterback Steve Grogan entered the game in the second quarter for starter Tony Eason. He struggled through most of the game, but was definitely an improvement over the 0-6 Eason.
On third and seven from their own 23, Grogan attempted a pass to tight end Derek Ramsey. The ball was tipped and Phillips returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to expand the lead to 37-3.
Henry Waechter's Safety
If Grogan hadn’t been tormented enough having been sacked three times and throwing two interceptions, Waechter added to his misery by scoring the game’s final two points. Waechter was able to do the safety dance with 5:36 left in the game to provide the final margin of 46-10. The 46 points the Bears scored and the 36 point scoring margin were Superbowl records at the time. It also gave the fans a media the opportunity to declare that the Bears were a team of destiny because the 46 matched their 46 defense.
McMahon’s 256 yards passing and two rushing touchdowns provided what most fans thought was an MVP performance. The focus of the 1985 Bears was on defense though.
Richard Dent earned the game’s MVP honors with 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.