MORRISSEY: ’85 reasons why fans aren’t in love with today’s Bears
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org November 2, 2012 9:56PM
Steve McMichael (left) and William Perry carry coach Mike Ditka in celebration of their Super Bowl win. | Phil Sandlin~AP
Updated: December 5, 2012 6:26AM
The85Bears. One word.
The grip that team has on Chicago is such that you don’t know where its hand begins and the city’s heart ends. We were reminded of it again last week when Hall of Famer Richard Dent went on a local radio show and blamed the absence of multiple Super Bowl titles on Mike Ditka. There should have been much, much more to that time period, Dent said. We should be talking about additional champions, he said.
His words caused a stir because they had to do with an iconic team and head coach. But it’s more than that. The 1985 team’s hold on the city has almost as much to do with how calculatingly dull this sports era is as it does with how dominant and colorful those characters were.
It’s much too easy for those former Bears to elbow their way into the conversation these days, and every time they do, I can’t help but wonder what has happened to pro sports. The NFL and other leagues have become ultra guarded, looking to politics and corporate America for inspiration and packaging themselves so tightly it’s a wonder movement is possible.
News conferences for your standard NFL head coach are cut off at a predetermined number of questions. Why, I don’t know. Maybe he has to get back on Air Force One.
Let’s look at the current Bears, who probably wonder why there’s so much nostalgia for a team from 27 years ago. You can almost hear their thoughts: ‘‘This is our time. Why are they still around?’’
Because they won a Super Bowl. Because they were interesting. Because they were passionate people who said what was on their minds. When current Bears defensive back D.J. Moore was critical of Jay Cutler for bumping into J’Marcus Webb in anger during a game, he got called into the principal’s office.
There is media access to the Bears’ locker room during the week, but the number of players who show up can be counted on the hand of Three Finger Mordecai Brown. The rest are allowed to hide. The only time reporters seem to see players outside of Halas Hall is when the Bears are trying to promote a charity, the way the corporate handbook says a caring member of the community should.
What do we know about Matt Forte, other than he has a new contract and probably wants the ball more? If there’s a personality in there, it’s under lock and key.
The exception, ironically, is Cutler. He does have a personality. It happens to be one that’s not always pleasant — like Jim McMahon’s but without the mooning (so far). At least it’s worth watching.
Can you imagine a head coach showing up ‘‘tipsy’’ to his own TV show, the way Ditka might have? Can you imagine Smith roller-skating inside Halas Hall, the way Ditka did to make fun of the Metrodome, which he compared to a roller rink? No, you can’t.
I don’t mean to pick on Lovie, who was born under a gag order. Can you imagine Mike McCarthy, Bill Belichick, Gary Kubiak, Mike Munchak, Mike Shanahan or any other NFL coach doing that? OK, the Jets’ Rex Ryan might. Then again, he’s the son of blunt Buddy Ryan, the ’85 Bears defensive coordinator who feuded publicly with Ditka.
These days, you’re lucky to hear from a coordinator once a week and certainly not after games, when the media might have uncomfortable questions about why he called a boneheaded play. When Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice was asked about Cutler’s walking away from him during a game this year, Tice rolled his eyes. Why are we still talking about something that happened three days ago, he said. Because you haven’t yet, we said.
The city felt it knew the ’85 Bears. They perfectly reflected the joy and messiness of Chicago. They were allowed to be themselves. They wouldn’t have stood for being corralled.
Even today, when you listen to Steve McMichael on the radio, there’s the wonderfully edgy feeling that you have no idea what the guy’s going to say next. And fellow ’85 Bear Dan Hampton doesn’t sugarcoat anything pertaining to the current team on his pregame show.
The current Bears are much, much harder to embrace. Go ahead and try. You’ll have cactus needles stuck to your arms and chest. The team will laugh at you rubes, but how much fun is it being the cacti?