Jim McMahon had pleasantly made his way down the media corridor Tuesday evening, working through an assembly line of interviews just inside Gate 14 at Soldier Field. The former quarterback had been his usual direct self as he handled questions about his health (improving but inconsistent), his Bears career (unforgettable) and his lasting memories of 1985 (too much chicanery to recount).
Yet before one last TV reporter could fire one last question, McMahon looked around and smirked.
“Where’s the bar?” he wondered aloud. “This is supposed to be a night of fun.”
That was a sentiment echoed in many different fashions Tuesday as more than 40 players and a handful of coaches from the 1985 Bears reunited yet again, this time at Soldier Field to commemorate, to the day, the 30th anniversary of their Super Bowl XX triumph over the Patriots.
Steve McMichael entered the stadium shortly after McMahon and, in his recognizable bombastic baritone, provided the evening’s unofficial slogan.
“We’re here to party, baby!” the former defensive tackle bellowed.
The ‘85 Bears, of course, are no strangers to parties and quite familiar with reunions, still proudly wearing their badge as the most celebrated team in Chicago history. Tuesday night, at a private gathering masterminded by former linebacker Jim Morrissey, the city’s only Super Bowl champion gathered again to reconnect about what they accomplished and the mischief and memories they created.
“The stories come back in a second,” middle linebacker Mike Singletary said. “It’s like we never, ever left.”
Added kicker Kevin Butler: “At every one of these, those stories change. That comes from the storytellers and the listeners. We all change ‘em. They get more exaggerated. But that’s the way it should be.”
It’s difficult to quantify just how much the ‘85 team still means in Chicago, their crowning achievement still revered. Yet with 30 years of recycled reminiscence, the luster inevitably fades. Players from that team understand their exploits and legacies remain so feted, in part, because the organization never has won a second Lombardi Trophy.
Still, there was also an impossible-to-recreate personality to that team, too, a driven squad loaded with diverse characters and big personalities.
“We weren’t just football players. We were entertainers too,” McMichael said. “And that’s how you catch the conscious of the public.”
Butler recoiled Tuesday when asked if he could have imagined the ‘85 team existing in the Twitter era.
“We’d all just be getting out of jail about now,” he said.
William Perry, who flew in from South Carolina on Monday night, expressed his eagerness for the reunion. Perry, who has battled serious health problems for large chunks of the past decade, insists he’s feeling better and that he was excited to see familiar faces.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It really is. We won a Super Bowl together but we had fun all along the way. They were great times that you can’t even imagine.”
As reunions go, the ‘85 Bears have experience and still deeply appreciate the bonds that endure.
Said McMichael: “The public remembers ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle’ and the shenanigans. But I remember it as the family in the backyard at the picnic. We’re family, man.
“When a team wins like that, you become family. And you know how you are with your family. You might fight in the backyard at the picnic for the last beer. But nobody else better mess with your family, right?”
Linebacker Otis Wilson digested that sentiment but considered the source.
“That’s the bad part about it,” Wilson quipped. “You know how you always have that black sheep of the family that you can’t take anywhere? That’s (McMichael). But I love him to death and I can’t wait to see him.”
The night was just beginning. And the ‘85 Bears still had plenty of ground to cover together.