Documentary To Tell The Untold Story Of The Team Who Won't Shut Up
By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 29, 2015 3:45PM
Twenty-nine years ago this week, the 1985 Chicago Bears returned from a dominant performance in Super Bowl XX to be feted with a downtown parade highlighted by 500,000 fans braving single digit temperatures to stampede the Lane Tech marching band and get a glimpse of their conquering heroes.
To hear linebacker Otis Wilson (who was at that parade) tell it, it wasn’t enough.
"There really hasn’t been anything done on a high level to celebrate this team—I mean, citywide. It’s overdue.”
Wilson, coincidentally, is one of the producers of an upcoming documentary about the Super Bowl Bears that promises to tell “the untold story of the greatest team in pro football history.”
The documentary was conceived by lawyers Joseph G. Klest, Richard W.Lenkov and Scott G. Prestin, who felt the one thing lacking in the near-three decade canonizing of the ’85 Bears was a full-length documentary. Lenkov met several members of the team at a collectibles show in Rosemont and those conversations eventually led the trio to Wilson, who jumped at the chance to join the project. (Also on board is Tom Pellegrini, one of the producers of the wonderful documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.)
This raises the question: what’s left to tell? The members of this team have not stopped feting their accomplishment, like Al Bundy telling “The Red Grange Story” over and over. They didn’t get their White House invite because the space shuttle Challenger exploded that same week. But the team was eventually invited to the White House by President Obama in 2011. Members of the team have been able to find a reliable source of income on the collectibles market and through commercial endorsments, while others like Wilson have become successful businessmen and media presences. Then there’s Mike Ditka, who has become a folk hero in Chicago since “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” If anything, the '85 Bears have become as annoying and self-aggrandizing as the 1972 Miami Dolphins team that celebrates every year when their perfect season is preserved.
Wilson, for what it’s worth, promises to pull back the curtain to reveal the team’s reliance on painkillers and how the pro football game has affected their longterm health. Safety Dave Duerson committed suicide in 2011 and left behind a note asking his brain be examined for signs of CTE. Quarterback Jim McMahon has been vocal in recent years about his struggles with early onset dementia as a result of his football injuries.
The graveyard of Chicago sports is filled with the corpses of teams that failed to attain championship glory: Dick Motta’s Chicago Bulls teams of the 1970s; the early 90s Blackhawks; the 1994 White Sox who could have broken the city’s World Series drought if not for a strike; the 1969, 1984, 2003 and 2008 Cubs.
The '85 Bears won their title but could conceivably be considered underachievers because subsequent teams had the talent to win multiple titles yet squandered the opportunity with squabbling, ego clashes, losing to better coached teams and tuning out Ditka, who was getting fat at the endorsement table he insisted his players avoid.
Getting their feelings on that would be one way to hook us into checking out this documentary.