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Hampton recalls how Bears decided to carry off Buddy Ryan

/ by Alex Shapiro
Presented By Miller Lite
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With Super Bowl LV on the horizon, we’ve been catching up with Bears legends to hear their memories from the Big Game. When talking about the Bears’ lone Super Bowl victory, one of the most iconic images that comes to mind is the team carrying off both head coach Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan as time expired. As one of the most boisterous members of the ‘85 defense— and one of the players who carried Ryan off— who better to share his memories of that moment than Dan Hampton? But before Hampton shared with us how Ryan came to be carried off alongside Ditka, he took us to the beginning of the game.

“In an abstract way it was an overwhelming feeling of finality,” Hampton told NBC Sports Chicago. "We had said all year long, and starting 13-0, that we were going to go and win the Super Bowl. Well here it is. Now, all the talk’s done. You go out there, line up, and make something happen.”

The feeling of finality wasn’t just because everyone knew this would be the last game of an incredible season, win or lose. For some, it was the end of a long struggle to finally play in a Super Bowl, after being shut out in the NFC Championship game the prior year. For the defense, they knew it was the last game they’d play under revered defensive coordinator Ryan.

“I remember before the game, in the locker room, we talked about what this game meant to us,” Hampton said. “Walter got up and said, ‘You know, this is my 12th year and I never thought that I’d make it. I love you guys, because you gave me the opportunity to win a championship.’ Then we all looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s go to work.’”

 

Go to work they did. After dominating for nearly the entire game, the end result was never in question. That gave the Bears’ players plenty of time to plan the perfect send off for their coaches.

“During the latter minutes of the game, I knew that it was appropriate to carry Mike Ditka off,” Hampton said. “But we wanted Buddy to off in the same fashion, because we knew he was going off to Philadelphia to be the head coach. So I told (Steve) McMichael, and (William) “Fridge” (Perry), ‘You go get your daddy, Ditka, and you carry him out so he doesn’t pout, because we gotta play for him next year. But me and (Richard) Dent, we’re going to carry Buddy out.

“So we grabbed Buddy up, and I gotta tell you, I’ve never seen Buddy that giddy. Normally, he was very stoic, but he was giddy as can be. He was just enjoying the hell out of it. Carrying him off next to Ditka, it was only fitting, because both of them were so instrumental in us winning that championship.”

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