Thursday, February 4, 2016

The 1985 Chicago Bears

Recently the 4-letter network went back 30 years and pieced together a very interesting program regarding the Chicago Bears. Their 1985 version was formidable, particularly on defense. As we know, they clobbered the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super bowl XX.

As was noted by some former players, times were much different then in the NFL. Brutal hits that would incur a fine and/or suspension in today's kinder gentler version of pro football were commonplace back in those days. No call. Business as usual. Whether the "evolution" of the NFL was/is a good or bad thing is certainly open to debate.

But back in the day, Buddy Ryan's "46" defense not only confused opposing offenses, but struck fear in them. The "46" designation actually arose from the uniform number of starting safety Doug Plank. While it had many variations involving defensive linemen and linebackers' assignments on any given play, who would do what when the ball was snapped was mostly dictated by the unheralded Plank, depending on what he saw of the offensive formation -- and instinct.

And those Bears were loaded with defensive talent. Richard Dent, William (Fridge) Perry, Dan Hampton, Otis Wilson, Mike Singletary, Ron Rivera (current head coach of the Super Bowl bound Carolina Panthers), Wilber Marshall, the late Dave Duerson, Gary Fencik, Steve McMichael. etc. Virtually a very talented brute at every position.

Though others have laid claim to their own "special" defenses over the years (see Dallas' "doomsday", Pittsburgh's "steel curtain", and Miami's "no-name"), nobody ever did it quite like the 1985 Bears. Those other defenses were very effective indeed, but the 1985 Bears just flat-out beat people up.

[A bit of irony. Though the Bears were an original NFL franchise, the 1986 Super was, and remains their only championship.They really haven't come close since.]

Yet during the documentary, it was interesting to note how some players complain to this day that super-star running back Walter Payton didn't get to "shine" in that particular Super Bowl. It was "Sweetness's" crowning moment, they claimed, but #34 didn't get a lot of action. Mike Ditka himself, the head coach of that team, apologized for not being aware of it at the time. As we also know, Walter Payton would later develop a liver problem that led to his death in 1999 at the young age of 46. He had long since retired from football.

But some of his former black teammates complained that Payton got short-changed in Super Bowl XX. After all, against THOSE Patriots, they could have played them 10 times and smoked them every single game. Probably so. Walter should have got more "touches" in that Super Bowl, because we were going to beat them anyway, they asserted.

Maybe. Maybe not. And Ditka wimped out by offering up an apology three decades after the fact. Look at it this way ---

The head coach's (and his staff) main job was/is to put together a game plan that results in a victory against any particular opponent. If it better served the need of the TEAM to use Payton as a decoy, then so be it. Replays of that Super Bowl clearly show that on any given play, New England had at least 2 defenders, and sometimes 3-4 solely dedicated to zeroing in on Payton. They were NOT going to allow Walter to run wild.

Yet by doing so, New England left themselves thin on defense elsewhere. This allowed Bear quarterback Jim McMahon to throw deep strikes to wide receivers, notably speed demon Willie Gault.

The results spoke for themselves. Who can objectively question the game planning that led to a 46-10 Super Bowl romp?

Other players without apparently race-based agendas were more philosophical. Walter was a great player, they said. One of the best of all time. But it wasn't about padding his stats. It was about winning the game. The greater good of the team always has to come first.

And they were absolutely right. It's a sorry state of affairs when the once old-schoolish Mike Ditka caves to retroactive political correctness -- thirty years after he and his staff concocted a perfect game plan -- on both sides of the ball -- to accomplish one of the most lop-sided Super Bowl victories ever.

So Walter didn't get his yards. Who cares? The game plan worked, in a big way. He got his "ring", didn't he? Did anything else really matter?

No comments:

Post a Comment