Where Are the 1985 Chicago Bears Now?
Few NFL teams have a legitimate claim to being the greatest of all time, but the 1985 Chicago Bears are in that conversation. They steamrolled to a 15-1 regular-season record, pitched back-to-back shutouts in the NFC playoffs, then posted the largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history with a 46-10 win over the Patriots.
The Bears were stacked at every position and boasted five future Hall of Famers, including Walter Payton, Mike Singletary and Mike Ditka. They also entrenched themselves in NFL and pop culture lore by creating the "Super Bowl Shuffle," a rap song which sold more than 500,000 copies and went gold.
The '85 Bears were one of the most iconic teams ever, and many of their players left lasting legacies that go beyond the football field. So what are those players and coaches up to today?
This is where the biggest stars of the 1985 Chicago Bears are now.
NFL experience: 15 years (1982-96)
Years with Bears: 1982-88
Career stats: 1,495 CMP, 2,573 ATT, 18,148 YDS, 100 TD, 90 INT, 78.2 RAT
1985 stats: 178 CMP, 313 ATT, 2,392 YDS, 15 TD, 11 INT, 82.6 RAT
The bad boy quarterback of the Bears was known as much for his on-field exploits as his off-field antics. He made his lone Pro Bowl during that 1985 season and also made headlines that year for mooning the media who was inquiring about a buttocks injury.
Jim McMahon was more than a game manager at quarterback — he was a game winner and won an astounding 22 straight starts from 1984 to 1987.
McMahon stuck around in the NFL for another decade after that 1985 season and even collected another Super Bowl ring with the 1996 Packers.
Since retiring, McMahon has revealed a number of health issues he got from playing football, including memory loss. Because of that, he has been one of the biggest advocates for medical marijuana to cope with the pain. He currently is a committee member for Doctors For Cannabis Regulation, a national physicians’ association dedicated to the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adults.
Position: Running back
NFL experience: 13 years, all with Bears (1975-87)
Career stats: 3,838 ATT, 16,726 YDS, 4.4 AVG, 110 TD, 492 REC, 4,538 RYDS, 15 RTD
1985 stats: 324 ATT, 1,551 YDS, 4.8 AVG, 9 TD, 49 REC, 483 RYDS, 2 RTD
The man some consider to be the greatest player in NFL history was at the tail end of his career in 1985 as a 31-year-old running back. Walter Payton still rushed for over 1,500 yards that season, making his fifth and final All-Pro team.
While Payton was dominant in the regular season, teams focused all of their efforts on him during the postseason, and he averaged just 62 rushing yards per game and failed to score a touchdown over the Bears’ playoff run. Mike Ditka later said that the biggest regret of his career was not creating a scoring opportunity for Payton in the Bears' 46-10 Super Bowl victory.
In 1999, Payton announced that he had a rare liver disease, and he died of bile duct cancer later that year at the age of 45.
A dozen years after his death, a biography came out on Payton that describes his personal life as being different than his public image. According to "Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton," the Hall of Famer was an adulterer who abused drugs. He suffered from depression after retirement and was suicidal, although members of his family hit back at some of the claims presented in the book.
NFL experience: 10 years, all with Bears (1980-89)
Career stats: 828 ATT, 2,946 YDS, 3.6 AVG, 20 TD, 260 REC, 2,113 RYDS, 5 RTD
1985 stats: 115 ATT, 471 YDS, 4.1 AVG, 1 TD, 33 REC, 295 RYDS, 1 RTD
Walter Payton’s lead blocker was one of his best friends as depicted by a picture during a Bears practice in which Payton is playfully tugging on Matt Suhey’s shorts.
Suhey played during a time when the fullback was much more in vogue, and he ran for almost 500 yards during that Super Bowl season. He also was the only Bears running back to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl as the Bears' other three rushing touchdowns came from quarterback Jim McMahon (2) and defensive tackle William Perry (1).
Upon Payton’s death in 1999, Suhey became the executor of Payton’s will and the custodian of his likeness and image, all while raising his own family. One of his sons, Joe Suhey, followed in his father’s footsteps and was a running back at Penn State from 2007 to 2011. Joe was the fourth-generation Suhey to play at Penn State, so the family often is referred to as "the first family of Penn State football" due to their long affiliation with the program.
Position: Wide receiver
NFL experience: 11 years (1983-93)
Years with Bears: 1983-87
Career stats: 333 REC, 6,635 YDS, 19.9 AVG, 44 TD
1985 stats: 33 REC, 704 YDS, 21.3 AVG, 1 TD
Willie Gault was an Olympic-level sprinter before ever suiting up for the Bears and would have participated in the 1980 Olympic Games had the U.S. not boycotted them. He used that deep speed in football and finished the 1985 season second in the NFL in yards per reception.
In Super Bowl XX, Gault had a game-leading 129 receiving yards, which was the fourth-most in Super Bowl history up to that point.
Gault joined the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988, and he began transitioning to an acting career. He appeared in various TV series, including "In the Heat of the Night" and "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" while also competing in Masters athletics.
He’s gone on to set numerous world records in many age divisions, including the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash records for the 50-54 age group in 2011. Gault still is competing in athletics as he approaches 60 years old and ran an 11.62 100-meter dash in 2018.
Position: Tight end
NFL experience: 12 years (1977-88)
Years with Bears: 1981-88
Career stats: 224 REC, 2,980 YDS, 13.3 AVG, 15 TD
1985 stats: 35 REC, 481 YDS, 13.7 AVG, 1 TD
A running back in college and a wide receiver as an NFL rookie, Emery Moorehead later transitioned to tight end and was the Bears' starter at the position from 1982 to 1987. He finished second on the team in receptions in 1985, and as a native of Chicago, he was living out his dream by playing for the hometown Bears.
Toward the end of his playing career, Moorehead got his real estate license and worked in the industry until 2014. That year, he also joined a business team hoping to sell cannabis under a new state law that legalized it.
In addition, Moorehead has tried his hand at coaching. In 2018, he was on the staff at the American Bowl International Camp Trieste in Italy. The camp served as an introduction of American football to hundreds of athletes from Italy, Spain, Hungary and the Netherlands.
Position: Left tackle
NFL experience: 8 years, all with Bears (1983-1990)
The Bears had the No. 2 scoring offense in 1985 but still only nabbed two first-team All-Pros on offense. One was Walter Payton and the other was left tackle Jim Covert.
He created rushing lanes for Payton and protected the blindside of Jim McMahon as the Bears scored a still-franchise record of 456 points. Covert was selected to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade team, but the selection was bittersweet as he’s the only of the 22 starters on the team who hasn’t made the Hall of Fame.
Covert has had a successful career outside of football, and that started with a guest appearance at WrestleMania 2 in 1986. He participated in a 20-man WWF vs. NFL Battle Royal that was won by Andre the Giant.
Covert then went into health care sales and is currently the CEO of The Institute for Transfusion Medicine, a nonprofit organization specializing in transfusion medicine services. Its two blood centers are where Covert was raised (Pittsburgh) and where he began his pro career (Chicago).
Position: Defensive end
NFL experience: 12 years, all with Bears (1979-90)
Career stats: 57.0 SACK, 10 FR, 0 TD
1985 stats: 6.5 SACK, 3 FR, 0 TD
The famed 46 defense would not have been possible without Dan Hampton, who willingly moved to defensive end so that William Perry could line up at defensive tackle.
Hampton was nicknamed the "Danimal", and as the name implies, he was a beast on the field. He was stout against the run and could generate pressure from anywhere along the defensive line. Even though he was a Pro Bowler that season, Hampton remained humble and was one of the biggest names not to participate in the "Super Bowl Shuffle" video because he felt it would have been too arrogant.
One of the true tough guys of his day, Hampton had (at least) 12 surgeries during his career and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002.
Hampton went into broadcasting after his playing days and called games for the NFL and XFL before joining Pro Football Weekly as a co-host.
He still lives in Chicago and currently hosts "The Hamp & O’B Show" with fellow former Bears player Ed O’Bradovich.
Position: Defensive end
NFL experience: 15 years (1983-97)
Years with Bears: 1983-93, 1995
Career stats: 677 COMB, 671 SOLO, 6 AST, 137.5 SACK, 2 TD
1985 stats: 38 COMB, 17.0 SACK, 1 TD
An eighth-round draft pick in 1983, Richard Dent quickly outperformed his draft position and became one of the most-feared sack artists of all time.
He led the NFL in sacks (17.0), forced fumbles (7) and pick-sixes (1) during the 1985 season, which culminated in him being named the MVP of Super Bowl XX. In the big game, Dent had 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass deflection, as he became the third defensive lineman to win the MVP trophy.
Nearly a decade after winning his first Super Bowl, Dent won another ring with the 49ers in 1994.
Two decades later, Dent was at odds with the NFL and filed what’s known as the "Dent Lawsuit." It alleges that the NFL instructed team doctors to hand out drugs without prescription and without warning players of harmful side effects. After the suit was dismissed, it was appealed, and in early 2019, the NFL again asked a federal court to dismiss the lawsuit.
Position: Defensive tackle
NFL experience: 15 years (1980-94)
Years with Bears: 1981-93
Career stats: 847 COMB, 838 SOLO, 9 AST, 95.0 SACK, 0 TD
1985 stats: 44 COMB, 8.0 SACK, 0 TD
The New England Patriots discarded "Mongo" McMichael after one season, and he quickly found a home on the Bears’ defensive line. He made the first of three straight Pro Bowls in the 1985 season, and no defensive tackle had more sacks than Steve McMichael did during the 1980s.
Mike Ditka often praised McMichael for doing the dirty work along the defensive line and called him the toughest player he ever coached.
McMichael is one of the few players from the ’85 Bears who gained even more fame in retirement than when playing. He went into pro wrestling in 1995 and wrestled for the legendary Four Horsemen in WCW.
He then became head coach of the Chicago Slaughter Indoor Football League team before later running for mayor in Romeoville, Ill., a Chicago suburb. He lost the race but still remains active in Chicago and owns Mongo McMichaels Sports Bar in the city.
Position: Defensive tackle
NFL experience: 10 years (1985-94)
Years with Bears: 1985-93
Career stats: 524 COMB, 506 SOLO, 18 AST, 29.5 SACK, 0 TD
1985 stats: 31 COMB, 5.0 SACK, 0 TD
Nicknamed "Fridge" because he was about as big as a refrigerator, William Perry gained legendary status during his 1985 rookie season. In addition to becoming the starting defensive tackle, Perry also was used as a fullback and scored three offensive touchdowns. He also scored a rushing touchdown in Super Bowl XX.
Perry’s Super Bowl ring size of 25 is reportedly the largest ever handed out and is double the size of an average adult male.
He dabbled in several publicity-stunt sporting events after his football career, including a toughman boxing competition, a charity boxing match and a hot dog eating contest.
Perry has struggled with weight problems and drinking problems in recent years and currently is confined to his late father’s home in South Carolina. His younger brother, who also played in the NFL, is Perry’s guardian and conservator of his affairs.
Positions: Middle linebacker
NFL experience: 12 years, all with Bears (1981-92)
Career stats: 19.0 SACK, 12 FR, 7 INT
1985 stats: 3.0 SACK, 3 FR, 1 INT
The leader of arguably the greatest defense in NFL history, "Samurai Mike" was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1985. The Bears led the league in scoring defense, had the top-ranked run defense and forced the most turnovers in the league.
In the famed 46 defense invented by Buddy Ryan, Singletary was free to roam anywhere on the field and wreaked havoc at every level. In a Week 2 game against the Patriots, Singletary had three sacks and an interception, and in the teams’ rematch in Super Bowl XX, Singletary recovered two fumbles.
A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Singletary went into coaching and was a position coach for six years before getting his first head coaching opportunity. It didn’t go well with the San Francisco 49ers from 2008 to 2010 as the team had an 18-22 record and Singletary returned to being a position coach.
After a two-year stint away from the sidelines, the appeal of being a head coach was too much for Singletary, who will coach the Memphis Express of the fledgling Alliance of American Football in 2019.
Position: Outside linebacker
NFL experience: 9 years (1980-87, 1989)
Years with Bears: 1980-87
Career stats: 36.0 SACK, 10 INT, 2 TD
1985 stats: 10.5 SACK, 3 INT, 1 TD
One of the most underrated members of the Bears' defense, Otis Wilson’s nominal position was outside linebacker, but his main role was to blitz the quarterback. He finished second on the team in sacks during the regular season and also picked up another two sacks in the Super Bowl.
Wilson made the lone Pro Bowl of his career in that 1985 season and was the Bears' all-time leader in sacks among linebackers until Brian Urlacher broke his mark.
Wilson left the Bears after the 1987 season, did not play in 1988 due to injuries and suited up for one game in 1989 with the Raiders before retiring.
He then returned to Chicago to establish a charity, which provides all-inclusive health and fitness programs for at-risk youths. The Otis Wilson Charitable Association still is in operation today and hosts over 200 students in the summer.
Wilson also co-authored a book that peeled back the curtain on the 1980s Chicago Bears, and it was published in 2017.
Position: Outside linebacker
NFL experience: 12 years (1984-95)
Years with Bears: 1984-87
Career stats: 1043 COMB, 1020 SOLO, 23 AST, 45.0 SACK, 4 TD
1985 stats: 78 COMB, 6.0 SACK, 0 TD
At 23, Wilber Marshall was the youngest full-time starter on either side of the ball for the '85 Bears. That youthfulness and exuberance manifested itself on the football field as he was a menace in both defending the pass and attacking the quarterback.
In 1985, he became just the second player in NFL history to accumulate four interceptions and six sacks in a single season, which showed off his versatility all over the field.
Marshall made a landmark decision after his four years with the Bears, and in 1988, he left the team as a free agent and joined the Redskins, becoming the first NFL free agent in 11 years to sign with another team and the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history at the time.
Marshall picked up a second Super Bowl ring with the 1991 Redskins and finished his career with stops in Houston, Arizona and New York.
Marshall retired in 1995 as the only player in NFL history with at least 20 interceptions and 45 sacks.
In recent years, Marshall has battled health issues and is permanently disabled. Shortly after filing for bankruptcy in 2008, Marshall won a long-pending case against the NFL’s retirement plan in order to receive disability benefits. He then estranged himself from the Bears by claiming that they stopped their deferred payments to him after he originally signed a deferred signing bonus with the team to help them out.
Marshall also has stumped, to no avail, for his own candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he can’t even make it past the initial cutdown.
NFL experience: 5 years, all with Bears (1981-85)
Career stats: 20 INT, 2 TD, 1.0 SACK
1985 stats: 6 INT, 1 TD, 0 SACK
The cornerback position is the most-overlooked role on the ’85 Bears team and was the only position without any Pro Bowlers.
But with all of the blitzing that took place, the corners were asked to play one-on-one often, and that was Leslie Frazier’s specialty. He led the team with six interceptions during the season, and his final NFL game turned out to be the Super Bowl.
Frazier suffered a career-ending knee injury during the game and was forced to step away at the age of 26.
After his playing career ended, Frazier took up coaching. He was the head coach at NAIA program Trinity International University before turning 30 years old.
He has spent the last 20 years coaching in the NFL. He was the Minnesota Vikings' head coach from 2010 to 2013, then had spells on the defensive coaching staffs for the Buccaneers and Ravens, before becoming the Bills' defensive coordinator in 2017, a position he still holds today.
NFL experience: 11 years (1983-93)
Years with Bears: 1983-89
Career stats: 20 INT, 1 TD, 16.0 SACK
1985 stats: 5 INT, 0 TD, 2.0 SACK
The Bears’ 46 defense required the strong safety to play in the box like a linebacker, and no one could fulfill that role like Dave Duerson. Some plays, he would cover a slot receiver, and other plays, he would be blitzing the quarterback.
Duerson notched two sacks during the 1985 season, and the next year, he picked up seven sacks, an NFL record that stood for 19 years for most sacks by a defensive back.
Off the field, Duerson always was involved in his community and won the Man of the Year Award in 1987, before the award was renamed after his teammate, Walter Payton. Duerson owned several McDonald’s restaurants in the Louisville area and also owned an interest in a sausage company.
Duerson suffered from brain disease later in life, and it was linked to the concussions he had while playing football.
In 2011, he sent text messages to his family saying he wanted his brain to be used for research, and then Duerson committed suicide with a gunshot to his chest.
Neurologists confirmed that Duerson suffered from CTE, and he was portrayed in the 2015 film "Concussion," which depicted the battles between the physician who discovered CTE and the NFL.
NFL Experience: 12 years (1976-87)
Career Stats: 38 INT, 1 TD, 2.0 SACK
1985 Stats: 5 INT, 0 TD, 0 SACK
A Chicago native, Gary Fencik spent his entire life in the city, outside of his four-year stint at Yale.
The safety was the last line of defense for the Bears and patrolled the secondary to the tune of five interceptions in 1985. He also wasn’t afraid to deliver a big blow to a receiver crossing the middle of the field, although unlike fellow safety Dave Duerson, Fencik never suffered from any major injuries.
Still, Fencik has joined the chorus of players who plan on donating their brains for research after they pass on. "I wanted to donate my brain, so they don't say 99.9 percent of the players that played in the NFL had this problem," Fencik said of CTE in 2018.
Fencik, who remains the Bears’ all-time leader in interceptions, got his MBA from Northwestern University. He then worked in the finance industry for Wells Fargo and UBS. Today, he is the head of investor relations for Adams Streets Partners, an investment management company with offices all over the world.
Position: Defensive back/coaching assistant
NFL experience: 5 years, all with Bears (1981-85)
Career stats: 5 INT, 0 TD
Yes, that Jeff Fisher was on the '85 Bears. jeff Fisher was a backup defensive back and return specialist for the Bears from 1981 to 1984 but missed the entire 1985 season due to injury. However, he still was put to use on the sideline, working as an assistant to defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan.
Since Fisher was on injured reserve, the ring he got was as a player instead of a coach, and he became a full-time coach the following season.
Fisher spent nearly a decade as an assistant coach with various franchises before getting the head job with the Houston Oilers in 1994. He held that job for 17 years with middling success and one Super Bowl appearance.
Fisher then coached the Rams for five seasons and failed to make the postseason each year. Fisher coached in 339 games and finished just eight games over .500. As a result, some people consider Aug. 8, aka 8-8, to be "Jeff Fisher Day."
He still longs for another NFL job and says he misses "competing on Sundays," so he signed on to be a consultant with the Alliance of American Football in its debut 2019 season.
Role: Defensive coordinator
NFL experience: 26 years (1968-1990, 1993-95)
Years with Bears: 1978-85
Career record: 55-55-1 (.500)
The architect of the Bears' defense, Buddy Ryan had full ownership of that side of the ball while Mike Ditka controlled the offense. Ryan developed the 46 defense, in part, to slow down the West Coast offense that had become popular in the early 1980s. Ryan utilized pressure from multiple places to disrupt the timing of opposing offenses, and San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh conceded that it worked.
"[The 46 defense] is the most singular innovation in defensive football in the last 20 years," said Walsh.
The Bears allowed one or fewer touchdowns in 14 games during the 1985 season, including the playoffs. Ryan would be carried off the field after Super Bowl XX as the defensive players felt he was the real coach of the team.
He then had a couple of more coaching stops in his career but never experienced the same success as being the Bears' coordinator.
Ryan passed away in 2016 at the age of 85, but his coaching legacy lives on with his twin sons, Rex and Rob, both of whom have won Super Bowls as members of the defensive staffs of their respective teams (Rex with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001 and Rob with the New England Patriots in 2002 and 2004).
Role: Head Coach
NFL experience: 14 years (1982-92, 1997-99)
Years with Bears: 1982-92
Career record: 121-95 (.560)
1985 record: 15-1 (.938)
No one embodied the spirit of Chicago more than Mike Ditka, their head coach. "Iron Mike" was a Bears player in the 1960s, and when he was hired as coach in 1982, he practically guaranteed a Super Bowl in short order.
"Give me three years, and if you walk with me, we'll get to the dance," Ditka told the team when he became coach in 1982.
He was right on schedule and led the Bears to their first and only Super Bowl victory. Ditka also was named NFL Coach of the Year after the 1985 season in which the Bears had the third-highest point differential in NFL history.
Ditka coached in the NFL for 10 more seasons after that special 1985 season, including the last three with the New Orleans Saints, but never found the same success.
He made the Hall of Fame as a player in 1988 and went into broadcasting after retiring from coaching.
Ditka has had a history of heart problems and suffered his latest heart attack in late 2018. He was released days later and is enjoying retirement in Naples, Fla.