Twenty-Six Years Later, The '85 Bears Get Their White House Visit

By Drew Magary
|  Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 10:37 AM CDT
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Twenty-Six Years Later, The '85 Bears Get Their White House Visit

Dave Duerson

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You know the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears as one of the greatest NFL teams of all time. But you may not know that the Bears never got a chance after their big Super Bowl victory to go meet Ronald Reagan at the White House. The Challenger Explosion happened just two days after the Bears beat New England, and so the Fridge and company never got to shake hands with the President, who had to deal with the aftermath of that disaster.

Until now. The Bears can thank their lucky stars that President Obama is a big enough Chicago homer to make up for lost time and give the '85 Bears their proper tribute. From David Kaplan at CSN Chicago:

NFL sources have confirmed to me today that the 1985 Chicago Bears have been offered the opportunity to be honored at the White House by President Barack Obama on Oct. 7 in a ceremony to honor the Super Bowl XX champions.

This will be something of a bittersweet celebration for the old champions, because not every member of the '85 Bears lived long enough to see this day. Walter Payton is gone. Safety Dave Duerson killed himself early this year and asked to have his brain donated for concussion research. And legendary defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, architect of the 46 Defense, is suffering from cancer and may be too infirm to attend.

And those Bears still alive and able to attend are also hurting. Quarterback Jim McMahon recently sued the NFL for failing to provide adequate protection from concussive injuries, and now suffers from mental lapses as a result. Tackle William "The Refrigerator" Perry has had substantial issues with weight gain, Guillain–Barré syndrome, and alcoholism. I know Obama is a fan and that this will be a joyous occasion, but it will also serve to highlight the rather steep price these men pay to play football for a living. It's been 26 years, and when you play in the NFL, you age seemingly three times faster than the average human being.

There will be happier aspects to the event. Former players Ron Rivera, Leslie Frazier, and Mike Singletary are now all NFL coaches. DITKA is still walking around being DITKA. And I'm sure someone will find a way to get George Wendt into the ceremony dressed in a Bill Swerski costume. It's going to be a great moment for one of the greatest sports teams of the 20th century. It was delayed by tragedy all those years ago, and in some ways, it'll be marred by tragedy on October 7th. But the '85 Bears have been waiting for this day for a long time. Better late than never.

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