Bernstein: Another ’85 Bears Anniversary, Already?

I can’t do it.

Every however-many years or so, the party machine cranks up another nostalgia festival for the 1985 Bears, and their wonderful cast of football characters telling stories of how they ran roughshod over the NFL, and restored honor to a proud city.

It’s happening again this weekend with an expensive gathering at the Arie Crown Theater.

Didn’t the 20th anniversary celebration happen, like, yesterday?

When even I can’t feign interest in this, it says something.

I was a high-school junior that season, and my family had season tickets. I even went to exhibition games. I stood in line to get Keith Van Horne’s autograph at Ford Pharmacy. I owned a VHS copy of the Super Bowl Shuffle. The horizontal “Black and Blues Brothers” poster of the offensive line hung over the desk in my bedroom – Stefan Humphries, Tom Andrews and Andy Frederick among those gazing down at me as I took notes in the margins of Othello.

But couldn’t we all use a break from the seemingly nonstop reunion tour?

They didn’t go anywhere. They have all been here. These parties are like recurring flare-ups of a painful, embarrassing skin condition.

Ditka is a ubiquitous, inescapable brand. His former players are talking on every radio station, all the time. The fact that there is not a local HD signal or a satellite channel doing 85 Bears talk 24/7 is amazing.

(Wait – I just raised the eyebrows of a program director. “Stay tuned for ‘The Henry Waechter Factor!’ Followed by ‘Fuller and Buford’, ‘Reggie Phillips’ Restaurant Reviews,’ and ‘Dennis Gentry Talks Movies and Car Repair.’”)

And, our desire to keep alive the outsized memories of an outsized team has too much of an impact on the way we view the Bears.

Lovie Smith’s team could win the Super Bowl, and the parade would pass by those grumbling about his sideline demeanor not reminding them of Ditka’s. It sounds ridiculous, but many of the calls for Bill Cowher are rooted in how well he fits the perceived archetype for a Bears coach.

Rather than use the 1985 Bears as an unrealistic, ongoing ideal, the lesson should be the opposite: they are not coming back to play. They will not return to make you feel as you did when you were younger.

Even that very group itself failed to recapture their own magic. What should speak loudest is that lesson: they could never live up to themselves. It is hugely unfair, then, to expect others to become them, just because the logo on the helmet is the same.

With every year that passes, I see beloved memories turning more and more into grotesque, Dickensian ghosts.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Pulseczar

    I was 9 years old and remember all of it like it was… well, less than 25 years ago. Still have the Betamax recording of the SuperBowl packed away somewhere at my parents’. I have the Super Bowl Shuffle 45rpm vinyl record too. I had the Blues Brothers poster. Walter Payton t-shirt “jersey”, etc.

    Remember all of the various Bears promotions? “Woohoo- Maury Buford! Now if only I could complete my set with that Keith Ortego glass!”

    Now I’m old and bitter. While SB XX is still the highlight of my sports fandom-life, these reunions don’t pique my interest much.

  • Pulseczar

    On another note, I’d thought for sure DB would have had an opinion on Derrick Rose being sat yesterday.

  • Lydell

    Dueling Memorabilia, eh? I have a Ken Margerum bobblehead. WAIT! It IS Ken Margerum!

  • Lydell

    If Derrick Rose turns into a once-a-week speaker, will it be called D-Day?

  • Kevin

    I was only one years old when the Bears won the 85 Super Bowl. The reunions for me are just a reminder that the Bears have been basically awful since. I wish they would stop. The larger than life figures and the die hard fans remind me of the fans from Friday Night Lights. It is creepy.

  • Dean

    What is the name of the Rakim song they play when coming back from break?

  • Gentleman RaRa

    The amount of attention that we give the ’85 Bears is unnecessary and overdone. But it also speaks volumes of how much football rules Chi-town. They won ONE championship. The Bulls won back-to-back-to-back championships TWICE, and I don’t see any banquets and gatherings for them (probably because most of that team is too busy gambling, detoxing, or currently involved with another organization.)

    The ’85 Bears Ditkafest is annoying to many of us, but as long as the meatballs still empty their wallets and scream for “Da Bears”, they’ll gladly tell the same story over and over again, pose for pictures, and do a superbowl shuffle for old times sake….as long as you pay the price.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    For me, it was the McDonald’s cards…

  • bigtime sucker

    I was thinking about this yesterday kinda. Why isn’t there equal fanfare for the 91 bulls. I know you can say the same about the 5 other titles but at least in the playoffs that year, that team was every bit as impressive. They went 15-2, I know the bears lost 1 game in 85, so ok you got me there. They lost the two games by a combined 4 points with each being 2 point losses. They won the 15 games by a margin of 13.53 points. You say the 85 bears is all defense. In that playoff run, the bulls allowed 92.11 points per game. Scottie, Michael and Horace were absolute mennances on the Defensive end. That bulls team was pretty good at offense as well. During that span the bulls averaged 103.94 ppg
    They shot 51.4 percent during that span and held teams to 45 percent shooting. They created in 17 games, 270 turnovers but they did turn it over themselves 212 times so I guess that’s a black eye. If you go to this site you can see other ways that team dominated in the playoffs. I know the 96 team went 72-10 and the 91 team went 61-21, but that playoff run needs to be celebrated with the same vigor as the 85 bears at least in my opinion it does!!!

    • General Soreness

      Because not every sports fan enjoys b-ball the way that you and I do. Football is the dominant sport in this country. Even though I love baseball and basketball, if I could only watch one sport for the rest of my life it would be football.

  • paulyballgame

    Hey Bernstein, the happiest man in Chicago must be Dan McNeill because he can now consider himself the 2nd worst writer in Chicago. Is it so difficult to come up with an interesting sports topic that you have to resort to this drivel?

    People who are still interested in the 85 Bears will attend this reunion and those who aren’t will find something else to do. Like anything else, the marketplace will tell us when this 85 Bears gravy train will end. Seeing how tickets are still available for tonight’s event, the end may be near.

    You are now exceedingly annoying in 2 forms of media, add a regular tv gig and you will have completed the trifecta! Tom Shaer’s got nothing on you!

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Yet, you seek his blog out. WYC?

  • bigtime sucker

    i had no problem with the sit downs. look the way i see it a) he wasn’t closing out on the 3 point shooters. b) any team that goes 16-24 for 3 you just tip your cap and live to play another day. The knicks were unreal for 3, so they deserved that win. The bulls, look they were slouchy or anything, they did shoot 51.9 percent from the floor and they were 48% from 3 themselves. they got whatever they wanted inside. they were sloppy with the ball and their perimiter rotations were awful, id on’t think playing rose and noah would have solved that. Bogans and brewer better be ready stick to ray ray like glue, i think deng and


    When a team like the New York Knicks can shoot the basketball lights out and were in complete control from the 2nd quarter on, Bulls’ fans can chant “We want Rose! We want Rose!” all they want like they did in the 4th quarter. The Bulls were in too deep of a hole last night for head coach Tom Thibodeau to put Derrick Rose back in a game that appeared to be getting out of hand on their home floor. The defense was nowhere to be found from the 2nd quarter on and the final wasn’t nearly as close as the score appeared. Besides, the Bulls have a tough game tonight vs. Thibs’ old team, the Celtics, in Boston.

    • bigtime sucker

      on top of that, it’s those needless situations that get players hurt.

  • Dave

    Oh come now bernsy.

    The best literary work you could mention was Othello?

    Perhaps a bit of Vidal, perhaps a little Fouchalt.

    I assumed a 16 year old Dan Bernstein would have been beyond the most basic novels such as Othello.

    • bigtime sucker

      damn when i was 16 i was reading the deerslayer, the scarlett letter and 1984(i did that sophmore year, senior year and in college, weird huh?), we didn’t go over shakespear all that much in highschool

      i was wondering what cabornet bernstien was drinking while pooring over Othello

  • thebizkit

    Who cares.

  • Glockster

    Every time people remember the 85 Bears, all I can think about is how far removed the current Bears are from contending, let alone dominating.

    • the hole in Adolfo Soriano's gold glove

      I’d say they are about 85 Bears short of a good team … I think a better article on the Bulls would be a slap at these idiot fans chanting “MVP” two games into the season. If he can string together maybe 60 more games like the first two and NONE like the game vs. the Knickers, perhaps he will finish in the top 10 in MVP voting.

  • bigtime sucker

    d rose played fine, 24 14 is a good game, he needs to close out better on shooters but other than that what was wrong with his game last night?

  • puddin' head

    knicks scored 120 or so

  • Dave

    Its incredibly amazing, Ford Pharmacy has been gone for over 10 years and these old guys are still on the banquet circuit.

  • Sam

    yeah… I do remember those 85 bears. I was 18 years old. My father and i watched it all. Walter was special. My favorite player was wilbur marshall and how he grabbed that fumble recovery for a touchdown. I loved it! They were hardnose hitting football players and the best. Nobody can beat them.


  • scott

    Just chill out. Your anger over such little things make you, a smart person, sound so dumb. Simply said you love to over analyse things that offend you. It’s sports,and your negative attitude tend to take all the fun and enjoyment out of it, for us who work all day, and use sport as entertainment.

    Next time you go on a rant about the ’85 Bears, or the Lebron “decission”commercial. Just remember the letter you read about the cancer trash talk with Garnett. Most of us don’t care about the politics of the game. Just the game itself. You should too, it would make your program more enjoyable.

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