Sports

Chicago Bears fans enjoy day with 2 heroes of 1985

Ogden column: Steve McMichael, Dan Hampton at Riverside on Sunday

Former Chicago Bears greats Dan Hampton (left) and Steve McMichael sign autographs while visiting Riverside Casino Sunday. The two later played in the Chicago 6 musical band. (J.R. Ogden/The Gazette)
Former Chicago Bears greats Dan Hampton (left) and Steve McMichael sign autographs while visiting Riverside Casino Sunday. The two later played in the Chicago 6 musical band. (J.R. Ogden/The Gazette)
/

RIVERSIDE — I didn’t stay for the music. But I had to go.

Growing up in Cedar Rapids — years ago, but also today — if you were a fan of professional sports, you had options. Most picked “local” teams to cheer for — those in Minnesota, Kansas City, Chicago and Green Bay.

An NFL fan for longer than I care to remember, my choice was the Bears. I know what many of you are thinking.

But while there have been many, many lean years, there also have been some memorable ones.

The 1985 season still burns bright.

Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan. Walter Payton and Jim McMahon. Mike Singletary and Richard Dent.

Dan Hampton and Steve McMichael.

On Sunday, McMichael and Hampton were inside Riverside Casino & Golf Resort’s new Draft Day Sports Lounge, signing autographs, chatting with fans, telling stories and grinning for photos. The two later joined the Chicago 6, a band formed during the 1987 NFL strike that also includes former teammate Otis Wilson, who was unable to attend Sunday.

I didn’t stay for the music, but listened to many stories and even got to ask a few questions while the two greeted fans.

By the looks of the crowd inside the casino, I wasn’t alone in my desire to remember that season with two members of that vaunted “46” defense.

Denny Conway, 77, remembers listening to the Bears on the radio while “picking corn” with his brother on the family farm in Muscatine. He was with his two sons, who also got some signatures and photos and saw their first Bears game in 1984.

“I wouldn’t want to play against them,” Conway said when asked how the 61-year-old former Bears look today.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Katherine Krier of Iowa City was 2 when the Bears won their first — and only — Super Bowl title. But her father was a big Bears fan and “I couldn’t pass this up.” She collected autographed photos for her father and brother.

Many others did the same, including my youngest son, Ben, who got his picture taken with the Bears’ greats.

The stories the two randomly shared were interesting and, mostly, fun. They have done this before, many times, and enjoy each others company.

They fed off each other like a comedy duo.

“I’ve had people tell me they quit watching that Super Bowl at halftime because ‘your game was boring,’” said McMichael. proudly wearing his Super Bowl and college football Hall of Fame rings. “You know what I tell them? So did I.”

When a man wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers shirt showed up, the two gasped.

“When we got into the league, they were THE team,” Hampton said. “When we got out, we were THE team.”

The two saved their best indignation for a Packers fans.

“You want your team like the ’85 Bears defense?” McMichael said. “Then you’re fan of mine.”

What question do the two get most often?

“Is Ditka really a .....?” Hampton said.

The answer was yes and no, he said.

“We love him just like family fighting over the last can of beer at a backyard picnic,” McMichael said with a laugh.

As for the current state of affairs inside Halas Hall, McMichael is impressed. He said he was at practice two weeks ago.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“They’ve got it going on,” he said. “You know what? They were having fun ... that’s a winning team.”

Just like the 1985 Bears?

“Oh yeah,” he said.

Maybe another memorable season is on tap.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.