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11 Surprising Facts About The 1985 Bears' 'Super Bowl Shuffle'

By Chicagoist_Guest in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 4, 2016 5:23PM

U.S. President Barack Obama stands with members of the the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears at the White House in 2011. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By Daniel Rowell

The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will face off in Super Bowl 50 this Sunday. And while Cam Newton and the Panthers have been dabbing lately, they aren’t the first NFL team to bring dancing and football together. The Super Bowl’s 50th anniversary also marks the almost exact 30th anniversary of the 1985 Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle”—a song that came with its own user-friendly dance—peaking at #41 on the Billboard charts. (Our Super Bowl is on Feb. 7, and the track peaked on Feb. 8).

If any NFL team in history deserved to dance to a song they wrote about themselves, that team was the 1985 Chicago Bears. Considered one of the best teams in the league’s history, they went a near-perfect 15-1 in the regular season, and shut out two opponents in the playoffs. Their Super Bowl victory against the New England Patriots—46-10—is one of the highest margins of victory in the history of the championship. Coached by the legendary Mike Ditka, the team included Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, and defensive tackle William Perry, nicknamed “Refrigerator.”

The “Shuffle” was almost as good as the team that sang it. The song featured a full brass band, a saxophone solo, and such great lines as “Runnin’ the ball is like makin’ romance” and “I may be large, but I’m no dumb cookie.” Even decades later, though, there are a few things even lifelong Chicagoans might not know about the track. For instance:

1. The Chicago Bears were so confident they would make the Super Bowl that they wrote and recorded the “Shuffle” two months, or six games, before they even made it to the game. Some Bear’s players refused to participate, afraid the song was presumptuous.

2. Walter Payton, or “Sweetness” as his teammates called him, may actually have been looking for trouble at the “Shuffle” shoot, in spite of his nickname. The photographer from the cover photoshoot, Don Levey, told Grantland: “The main thing I remember is that Walter is a big pincher, pinching people in the butt … with a grip like a bear trap!”

3. The “Super Bowl Shuffle” music video went gold, selling over a million copies.

4. The week leading up to the Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears was somewhat controversial due to the Bear’s “Shuffle,” which some believed was arrogant. (Sounds familiar.) Bears wide receiver Willie Gault defended the song to the Tribune, noting, “It`s got a good beat—you can dance to it, and it`s not hillbilly-type music.”

5. Three fans of the the New England Patriots created a response to the “Shuffle” in the week leading up to the game, although it was not as critically acclaimed and really just features three angsty teens from New England. Good to see Boston’s history of over confident and poorly dressed fans dates back three decades.

6. The proceeds for the sales of “Shuffle” records and video were donated to local Chicago families in need. In the end, almost $300,000 was donated to the Chicago Community Trust.

7. There’s an ongoing lawsuit over proceeds from the “Shuffle,” filed in 2014 by six members of the ‘85 Bears team. Their suit argues that the proceeds from the marketing and licensing of the song should also have been donated to charities.

8. The Bears were not the only team to double as recording artists. The year 1984’s Super Bowl champions, the San Francisco 49ers, created a song of their own: “We’re the 49ers.” The song makes heavy use of a“dynamite” sound effect, but uses for a guitar solo instead of saxophone—a big mistake.

9. The “Shuffle” was nominated for a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal,” but lost to Prince and the Revolution’s “Kiss.”

10. Due to the Challenger disaster on Jan. 28, 1986 (two days after the Super Bowl), the Bears’ trip to the White House was cancelled. President Barack Obama eventually welcomed them to the White House in 2011, 25 years after their Super Bowl victory.

11. Ron Rivera, the current head coach for the Carolina Panthers, was also member of the 1985 Chicago Bears, but slept through the taping of the “Shuffle,” according to Fox.

Daniel Rowell (@danieljrowell) is a writer, illustrator, and bank shot specialist based in Chicago.