‘Bears Classics’ presented by Xfinity to debut Tuesday, November 21 at 7:00 PM CT -- Exclusively on NBC Sports Chicago
Narrated by Chicago Bears/Pro Football Hall of Fame legend DICK BUTKUS
NBC Sports Chicago live stream available 24/7 on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app
Chicago, IL (November 16, 2017) – NBC Sports Chicago and the Chicago Bears will debut a brand new installment of its partnered Bears Classics presented by Xfinity Emmy award-winning documentary series when the network will once again go back in time to highlight a memorable Thanksgiving Day come-from-behind victory against one of the franchise’s fiercest longtime rivals.
Debuting Tuesday, November 21 at 7:00 PM CT exclusively on NBC Sports Chicago (live stream of this program also available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app), this edition of Bears Classics will turn back the clock to November 27, 1980, as the Bears traveled to the Pontiac Silverdome to face the Detroit Lions in a nationally-televised Thanksgiving Day showdown.
Since 1934, the Lions have played football on Thanksgiving Day and the team that helped them launch this special 83-year tradition was none other than the Bears. Over the years, the rivals have met a total of 16 times on the festive holiday and this thrilling match-up featured two of the NFL’s top running backs at that time: 1980’s NFL “Offensive Rookie of the Year” Billy Sims and the Bears legend in the making, the great Walter Payton.
Down 17-3 heading into the fourth quarter, the Bears dug deep and mounted a comeback for the ages, thanks in part to quarterback Vince Evans, a 1977 draft pick who emerged as a starter that season when Mike Phipps was benched midway through the season. Evans was determined to own that fourth quarter as he threw and rushed for two critical touchdowns tying the game at 17 apiece. And then there was Dave Williams, an offensive utility man whose kickoff return overtime heroics simply shocked the nation in this holiday afternoon battle that many have heralded as one of pro football’s greatest games.
This hour-long installment of Bears Classics, subtitled The Feast of Pontiac, takes an in-depth look at this critical moment in Bears history featuring candid interviews with Bears players and coaches, Lions opponents, along with those who covered this memorable holiday battle.
This edition of NBC Sports Chicago’s Emmy-winning Bears Classics documentary series will once again be narrated by Chicago Bears legend/Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus. Butkus played for the Bears from 1965-1973 and is credited for redefining the middle linebacker position. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
In addition to the documentary narration by Butkus, among the numerous players interviewed in this edition of Bears Classics include exclusive interviews with the following individuals:
Bears Quarterback (1977-83)
Bears Running Back (1975-82)
Bears Defensive End/Tackle (1979-90)
Bears Offensive Tackle/Guard (1976-82)
Bears Linebacker (1980-87)
Lions Running Back (1980-84)
Please note the following quotes from NBC Sports Chicago’s premiere airing of Bears Classics: The Feast of Pontiac, debuting Tuesday, November 21 at 7:00 PM CT:
DAN HAMPTON (on the Bears/Lions rivalry):
"When we played the Lions, it was always a fist fight. And they were looking for respectability, we were looking too…and we’d kind of took it out on each other."
DAN JIGGETTS (on the spotlight of Thanksgiving Day games):
“On that day, you knew that the rest of the league was watching, and you know, some people were sitting down and dining and other people were the turkey…and the one thing you wanted to make sure of was that you weren’t the turkey."
ROLAND HARPER (on the talents of his backfield partner Walter Payton):
“He’s gonna be Walter regardless of what, he doesn’t care what you put on the scoreboard, he doesn’t care what you say, sooner or later he’s gonna break one."
BILLY SIMS (on the late game heroics of Bears kick returner Dave Williams):
“I saw that guy coming right past me, I sure would’ve put my leg out there and trip him up (laughs). I could not believe it."
VINCE EVANS (on having a career day as a QB):
“There's not a lot games that you have like that, I mean throughout your career…but when they happen, they’re magical."
NBC Sports Chicago will also re-air this episode of Bears Classics on Friday, November 24 at 8:00 PM. In addition, fans can also get interactive prior and during every airing of Bears Classics with their thoughts, memories and comments by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #BearsClassics. Plus, NBCSportsChicago.com will provide additional, online exclusive interviews and commentary write-ups from NBC Sports Chicago’s team of Bears experts.