The 1999 Rams were far and away my favorite football team of all time. They were my hometown team. They were electrifying, fun, personable, dominant and had great stories throughout the roster.
As great and entertaining as that team was, I have to confess that in my opinion, the 1985 Bears were the greatest and most entertaining team I’ve ever seen.
I love swagger, and the Bears had it in spades. From quarterback Jim McMahon’s grit, to coach Mike Ditka’s toughness, to the exhilarating pass rush produced by the new “46” defense implemented by Buddy Ryan. In the 46 (a lot of people thought it was a four linemen-six linebacker alignment) named for former Bears’ safety Doug Plank, a ferocious front four was flanked by athletic, fierce outside linebackers, while the strong safety (which Plank was) would either hang back, or in most cases, rush from anywhere. Yes, seven guys were rushing the quarterback or at the line of scrimmage. Middle linebacker Mike Singletary would roam sideline to sideline behind the line of scrimmage, and the corners and free safety were on an island in coverage. It was fun to watch.
How much swagger was there? On the Tuesday morning after their first loss, a Monday nighter at Miami in Week Twelve, they met at a studio to record “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” Can you imagine any team now having the confidence to record a video saying they’re going to the Super Bowl? It wouldn’t even happen right before the playoffs, let alone with a month left in the season.
They had it all. McMahon…after having been fined by Commissioner Pete Rozelle for wearing a Kangaroos shoes headband, wore headbands with ROZELLE written in marker across the front. Rookie defensive tackle William Perry, AKA, ‘The Refrigerator,’ became a national sensation after he RAN for a touchdown in a Monday night game against the rival Packers. Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan constantly bickered, and fans across the country loved it.
Last Friday, minus the late Walter Payton, the ’85 Bears got together to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of that team. It was such a magical squad that their anniversary is going to be edited down to be a TV special.
We won’t see anything like it again. With the salary cap, talent is too spread out, with free agency, a team can’t keep enough great players around, and with the league’s attitude, swagger and fun aren’t really a part of the NFL any more.
The 1985 Bears were one of a kind…and even though I watched a Super Bowl Champ here in 1999…I have to admit, the Bears were better, and more entertaining.