100 Chicago Bears Facts Part 5: 'Pop Culture Edition' - NBC Chicago
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100 Chicago Bears Facts Part 5: 'Pop Culture Edition'

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    100 Chicago Bears Facts Part 5: 'Pop Culture Edition'
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    SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1 -- Aired 09/28/1991 -- Pictured: (l-r) Chris Farley as Todd O'Connor, Robert Smigel as Carl Wollarski, Mike Myers as Pat Arnold during "Bill Swerski's Super Fans" skit -- Photo by: Raymond Bonar/NBCU Photo Bank

    As we prepare for the Chicago Bears’ season opener against the Green Bay Packers, we are providing fans with a list of 100 interesting facts, records and tidbits to help you get in the football mood.

    We’re continuing that list today with 10 facts that we're nicknaming "Pop Culture Edition," examining the way the team has been portrayed on TV and film, as well as the impact the squad has had on American life. 

    As we prepare for the Chicago Bears’ season opener against the Green Bay Packers, we are providing fans with a list of 100 interesting facts, records and tidbits to help you get in the football mood.

    We’re continuing that list today with 10 facts that we're nicknaming "Hollywood Bears,” a look back at the team in the world of pop culture.

    DA BEARS

    If we’re going to look at the Bears’ legacy on the big (and small) screen, the first stop has got to be “Bill Swerski’s Super Fans,” a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch that influenced the world’s view of Chicago in an incredibly profound, and occasionally absurd, way.

    The sketch, which debuted in 1991, featured a group of beer-swilling braggarts who loved talking about “DA BEARS” and how amazing the city’s sports teams are. According to a remarkable history put together by “The Ringer,” the sketch was based on the iconic Chicago sports television program ‘Sports Reporters,’ and creators Robert Smigel and Bob Odenkirk based the characters on men they had seen at Wrigley Field during Cubs games in the 1980’s.

    Packers vs. Bears: A Rivalry By the Numbers

    [CHI] Packers vs. Bears: A Rivalry By the Numbers

    The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have been doing battle for nearly 100 years, and as a result there are some truly fascinating numbers that have come out of the league's most historic rivalry.

    (Published Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019)

    The first sketch was performed when Chicago-native Joe Mantegna hosted the show in 1991, and became an instant hit, with George Wendt, Chris Farley, and Smigel all playing key roles in the sketch.

    POLISH SAUSAGE

    While most people are aware of the cultural phenomenon that the sketch became (and the stereotypes it helped embed into the American psyche), many don’t know the origins of the name “Swerski.”

    This Is What the Chicago Bears Will Look like This Season

    [CHI] This Is What the Chicago Bears Will Look like This Season

     It was a busy off season for the Chicago Bears as they look to defend their NFC North title. Several key members of last year’s team will be wearing new uniforms in 2019.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 23, 2019)

    To put things simply, the character was named after long-time Chicago sportscaster Chuck Swirsky, who is currently the radio voice of the Chicago Bulls.

    The pride and joy of Polk High plays for the Bears

    In one of the final episodes of the iconic series ‘Married With Children,’ Al Bundy made a deal with the Devil, selling his soul so that he could play for the Chicago Bears.

    Famous Chicago Bears Fans

    [CHI] Famous Chicago Bears Fans
    The Chicago Bears have some pretty famous fans rooting for them on the sidelines. Here's a look at celebrities you may or may not have known are Bears fans.
    (Published Monday, Aug. 26, 2019)

    In the episode, Bundy is the oldest rookie in NFL history, and he helps lead the Bears all the way to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for Bundy, after he scores the clinching touchdown, he is sent to Hell as payment in the deal, and he’s forced to spend eternity with his family and the D’Arcy’s as punishment.  

    Soldier Field stars in NBC drama ‘Chicago Fire’    

    While the Chicago Fire soccer team is likely going to return to Soldier Field to play games beginning in 2020, ‘Chicago Fire’ the TV series is also a big fan of the stadium, setting several episodes at the historic building.

    Chicago Bears Offer New Game Day Food Options

    [CHI] Chicago Bears Offer New Game Day Food Options

    Chicago Bears fans will be able choose from several new tasty options at Soldier Field this season. NBC 5's LeeAnn Trotter reports. 

    (Published Monday, Aug. 26, 2019)

    In the 13th episode of Season 4, the firehouse prepares for a terrorist threat in Chicago, and when they respond to a call at Soldier Field, they encounter purple smoke billowing from the stadium.

    In a Season 5 episode, firefighters are called to the stadium again to rescue a man who is seen dangling from the top of the stadium.

    Jay Cutler’s career takes an interesting turn

    The Story Behind the Bears' Unofficial Mascot

    [CHI] The Story Behind the Bears' Unofficial Mascot

    Don “Bearman” Wachter is a devoted Chicago Bears super fan that has been going to games dressed up in his elaborate costume for more than 20 years. He has now become one of the most recognizable fans at Soldier Field thanks to his makeup and real bear head.

    (Published Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019)

    While Cutler was the quarterback of the Bears, he began dating reality TV star Kristin Cavallari, and ultimately married her in 2013. The couple has two sons and a daughter together.

    Cutler’s Bears career came to an end after the 2016 season, but his flirtation with Hollywood did not, as he became a prominent character in the reality TV show “Very Cavallari,” adding some much-needed sarcasm and humor to the proceedings.

    Brian Urlacher and Jenny McCarthy’s romance  

    After a brief flirtation with Paris Hilton (who was seen wearing his jersey in a Soldier Field skybox), Urlacher and actress Jenny McCarthy were involved in a relationship in 2012.

    The couple dated for several months before splitting up, with McCarthy saying that she would continue to be his “biggest cheerleader” after the break-up.

    McCarthy unfortunately didn’t get the chance to cheer Urlacher on for much longer, as the linebacker retired after the 2012 NFL season.

    Mike Ditka: Coach, tight end, thespian?

    Mike Ditka was known as a tough coach and football player, but he also had some acting chops too.

    When Will Ferrell took on Robert Duvall in a heated cinematic duel on the soccer pitch, he ended up using a secret weapon to try to gain an advantage: Ditka, who played himself and served as the archrival for Duvall’s character in the film.

    Ferrell recruited Ditka to help him try to win a big game between the father and son, but he took things way too far after Ditka introduced him to coffee, transforming him into a hyper-competitive coach.

    In the end things work out peacefully, which seems kind of odd for a hard-nosed coach like Ditka, but hey, this is Hollywood.

    That’s ‘Grammy-Nominated ‘Super Bowl Shuffle’ to you!’

    There are a few things that just about every casual sports fan remembers about the 1985 Chicago Bears season, and one of the craziest things to emerge from the campaign was the shocking success of the “Super Bowl Shuffle.”

    While many fans remember the song coincided with the team’s 15-1 season and ultimate Super Bowl championship, most don’t know that the tune was actually recorded the day after the Bears lost their only game of the season, a Monday night affair against the Miami Dolphins.

    Despite the setback, the song was nominated for a Grammy for “Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group,” but was defeated by Prince’s “Kiss.” The song raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, and even peaked at number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 after the Bears won the Super Bowl.

    After football, William Perry became quite the showman

    William “The Refrigerator” Perry became an icon for the Bears after scoring an incredible touchdown in Super Bowl XX, but he also became known as an actor, guest-starring in an episode of “The A-Team,” and a wrestler,  participating in Wrestlemania in Rosemont.

    Perry also fought in several televised boxing matches, including a match against former NBA player Manute Bol.

    Get out the tissues: it’s time to talk about ‘Brian’s Song’

    The story of Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers was as emotional as they came, with the one-time rivals becoming dear friends before Piccolo was diagnosed with the cancer that would eventually claim his life at the age of 26.

    Their friendship was made into the film “Brian’s Song,” which starred Billy Dee Williams as Sayers and James Caan as Piccolo. The film was a smash hit on television and later made its way into movie theaters, where it was praised as an emotionally powerful story of friendship.

    Piccolo’s number 41 was ultimately retired by the Bears, and the Brian Piccolo Award is given out by the Bears each year to honor players who exemplify “courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, and sense of humor.”

    For more Bears facts: 

    Part 1: The Bear Necessities: 10 basic facts about the team, and the players now patrolling Soldier Field. 

    Part 2:In The Beginning: 10 facts about the team’s founding, original owner George Halas, and the first big star the team was able to sign in the 1920s.

    Part 3:There's No Place Like Home: 10 facts about the places where the Bears have played football. 

    Part 4:Weathering the Storms: 10 facts about the Bears' relationship with Mother Nature. 

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