Mike Ditka Says The ’85 Bears “Were The Greatest”
Thirty years after they won a Super Bowl title, Mike Ditka still is sure who the greatest NFL team is: his 1985 Chicago Bears.
While there will never be 100% agreement over who the best team ever was, Ditka’s Bears are surely in the conversation. After a 15-1 regular season, they cruised through the playoffs, winning their three games by a combined score of 91-10. The roster boasted nine Pro Bowlers, including all-time greats like Walter Payton, William ‘the Refrigerator’ Perry and Mike Singletary.
Ditka reminisced about that team in a column he wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times and, while you really should read the whole thing, we’ve cherry-picked some of the best passages below.
You can talk about coaching all you want, but you can’t win without great players. Now, they were as different as different can be, but they wanted to win — all of them. You take Steve McMichael and Mike Singletary, a tough, tough tackle and our Hall of Fame middle linebacker.
McMichael was like a Harley-Davidson biker. Singletary was like a minister. I think he might have been a minister, might actually have had ministry papers. I don’t think they ever had a conversation that lasted more than seven seconds. So what? They respected each other, and they both had huge hearts.
And there was that defense — ‘‘the 46,’’ named after Doug Plank, the safety who had been there when the system began. That was Buddy Ryan’s naming of it because he called everybody by their numbers, like, ‘Hey, No. 72!’ for Fridge. Or even, ‘‘Hey, Fatso!’ That was Buddy.
You know, we didn’t reinvent the wheel; we just let these guys go. Walter never stopped, never quit — ever. And it wasn’t all drudgery, either. We had fun. Those guys played a lot of jokes on each other. Hell, they played ’em on me. Walter had this high voice, and he used to call me on the office phone and say he was this woman, Juanita.
He was the strongest of all, and for him to be the first gone from the group, it tears at you. But my memories of him are all good.
And when you talk about fun, how about the Fridge? If you didn’t like him, you didn’t like anybody. And as big as he was, putting him in the backfield, it was physics. He blocked, he caught a pass, he threw one. He wanted to kick field goals, too. Serious! He’d be out there practicing with Kevin Butler.
Photo: Former American football player, coach, and television commentator Mike Ditka during the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 25, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)