ESPN '30 for 30' on 'The ’85 Bears' more than just a memory exercise


ESPN '30 for 30' on 'The ’85 Bears' more than just a memory exercise

So often when we look back at a memorable time or event, we remember less an individual specific and more the people that made it special. Such is the case with the ESPN "30 for 30" documentary “The ’85 Bears” that airs Thursday night at 8 p.m.

In the end, it really was about the people, and “The ’85 Bears” does a thoroughly enjoyable and informative job of recalling all the epic football but does it all against the fabric of personality that was the really enduring part of it all.

The football parts are the obvious: A defense that in one six-game stretch scored 27 points while the six opposing offenses managed just 27 points – combined. What Jim McMahon accomplished on Thursday night in Minnesota. The successive hammerings of the New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots through those playoffs.

[RELATED: The ’85 Bears - To get it all, look way beyond just the football]

In a way this is a significant part of the whole story of Buddy Ryan, the defensive coordinator who made the defense what it was, and that defense made the ’85 Bears what they were. If there is a surprise it lies in the level of emotion that Gary Fencik, Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary, Otis Wilson and others have to this day around Ryan. Consider this a mini spoiler-alert: Be sure and watch this all the way to the end. Trust me: Some of the guys reading “The Letter” is worth it.

Actually, there are two “The Letters.” And the story around the one the defense sent to George Halas before Mike Ditka was ever hired is a huge part of “The ’85 Bears” and that is the starting point for much of everything. The succession of players — Fencik, Hampton, Steve McMichael, Singletary, Wilson — reading parts of the actual letter, and their telling Halas’ reaction are nothing short of gripping.

So are the recollections of McMahon, Jimbo Covert, and about Walter Payton.

[MORE '85 BEARS: Super Bowl XX - 30 years later in a career covering the Bears]

John Madden told me during the writing of “The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Football Team in History” that the ’85 Bears were something right out of central casting. You really couldn’t make this bunch up, and that still comes through.

“The ’85 Bears” has plenty of history, but doesn’t wallow in the past, not even Ditka himself, the past being of course for cowards and losers. The reaction of the players to Ditka being hired is amusing. As is the reaction of McMichael, Singletary and the others to meeting Ryan.

From working on “The Rise and Self-Destruction of the Greatest Football Team in History” I know very well how deep the frustration still lies. Richard Dent telling me that Ditka was “the reason we won a Super Bowl and the reason we didn’t win three.” Hampton faulting Vince Tobin not for any defensive specific so much as for “turning attack dogs into guard dogs,” going from the woof’ers of ’85 to the more conservative guard dogs of ’86 and after, regardless of what some stats might say.

[SHOP: Buy a Walter Payton retro jersey]

But my daughter Jenny was 7-years-old when we were dealing with something sad, and this little kid says, “Dad, let’s not be sad for what we don’t have. Let’s be happy for what we do have.” From the mouths of babes.

Such is what “The ’85 Bears” are all about — not about the Super Bowls that “should” have been won, but the one that was, and all that went with it. This show is a chance to be happy about that.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the blame in the Bears loss to Miami?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the blame in the Bears loss to Miami?

David Haugh, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel. The Bears lose a rough one in Miami as Matt Nagy goes conservative at the end zone. Does the rookie coach deserve all of the blame? Dave Wannstedt joins the guys to discuss.

Plus the guys discuss the Cubs’ newest hitting coach/scapegoat, Brandon Saad’s upcoming healthy scratch and Bobby Portis betting on himself this season. 

Listen here or in the embedded player below!

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins


Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

The Bears defense was not its usual self in their overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The pass rush was minimal and tackling looked optional, and Brock Osweiler threw for almost 400 yards.

There was plenty of blame to go around, but a few individual defenders had success while their teammates struggled.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks made the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week for Week 6 with a 92.2 overall grade.

He recorded seven tackles that resulted in a defensive “stop,” the most of any defensive lineman according to PFF.

Chicago’s next highest-graded player was cornerback Kyle Fuller (78.2), who intercepted Osweiler twice but also missed two tackles.

Offensively, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel led the way with a 76.9 mark. PFF credited four of his five catches coming against Dolphins cornerback Torry McTyer in coverage.

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Khalil Mack had the lowest-graded game of his career (47.8), while linebacker Danny Trevathan (29.9) and safety Adrian Amos Jr. (47.5) each had their second-worst games.

Some of the Bears’ best players were at their worst in Miami. They’re going to need to get their act together for the New England Patriots on Sunday.