The debate as to where the 2015 Denver Broncos rank on the list of all-time defenses is amusing and, frankly, not worth a lot of commentary. The ’85 Bears, ’00 Ravens, ’86 Giants and others may be in the “best ever” discussion; not the Broncos.
But one slight of the “85 Bears is interesting. Consider it at most a small, unintentional case of adding insult to injury, and arguably justified.
On top of the failure of the 1980’s Bears to reach only one Super Bowl came the selection of “The Super Bowl 50 Golden Team” late last month by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That collection is made up of 22 Hall of Famers, and the Bears Super Bowl XX team has four players enshrined in the game’s pantheon, three from that ’85 defense.
But the number of Bears selected to the Golden Team is...zero.
More than likely, the shutout is the result of reaching only that one Super Bowl. No member of the Golden Team played in fewer than two.
Despite these three members of the Super Bowl XX defense being Hall of Fame performers, a case for putting any of them ahead of the Golden Team choices is difficult, even based on an epic Super Bowl performance.
DE Richard Dent - The Colonel was the MVP of Super Bowl XX. But Golden Team member Reggie White, the left end on two Green Bay Super Bowl teams, had three sacks in the 1996 game vs. Dent’s 1.5, and White was simply one of the dominant players of his or any era.
The other Golden Team end was Charles Haley. As the only player with five Super Bowl rings, and with impact play in all of those wins, Haley is arguably the easiest call of all.
[MORE '85 BEARS: Super Bowl XX - 30 years later in a career covering the Bears]
DL Dan Hampton - Danimal was a factor at both end and tackle, particularly over the center in the “46” defense. But he does not edge out either Haley or White at end, and the defensive tackles were Joe Greene from the Steelers and Randy White from the Cowboys. White is a debatable selection, a co-MVP in one Super Bowl, and how he was chosen over Kansas City’s Buck Buchanan is for another time. But as dominant as Hampton was, he ranks below at least those three.
MLB Mike Singletary - Two words. Ray. Lewis. Two more. Jack Lambert.
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Former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden went against Greene, Lambert and those ‘70s Steelers teams. When I was working on “The Rise and Self-Destruction of the Greatest Football Team in History: The 1985 Bears and Super Bowl XX,” Madden was adamant that the ’85 group was the best he’d ever seen, including the Steelers.
But individually, one Super Bowl and some very, very good others are too much to overcome for ‘85ers to make the Golden Team.