On Thursday night, ESPN will premiere its latest “30 for 30” on the 1985 Chicago Bears, 30 years after one of the most memorable, dominant seasons in NFL history. The Bears went 15-1 in the regular season and then won their three playoff games by a combined 91-10, capped by a 46-10 demolition of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
To get everyone up to speed before the documentary airs, here are 20 ways in which the 1985 Chicago Bears were pretty much the best.
— The Bears took 13 players in the 1983 NFL draft. Seven of them became starters on the 1985 team: Jimbo Covert, Willie Gault, Mike Richardson, Dave Duerson, Tom Thayer, Richard Dent and Mark Bortz. For comparison’s sake, only one player the Bears took in the 2013 NFL draft was a full-time starter for them in 2015: tackle Kyle Long.
— The “Super Bowl Shuffle” reached No. 41 on the Billboard charts and received a Grammy nomination for best rhythm and blues performance by a duo or group. It lost to Prince and the Revolution’s “Kiss.”
— Many of the profits from the song went to charity.
— From Week 7 to Week 12, the Bears outscored their six opponents by a combined 170-29 (average final score: 28.3-4.8). They allowed an opponent to reach double digits just once over that span: The Packers scored 10 points in Week 9.
— The Bears’ 1985 defense is widely considered one of the best in NFL history, allowing only 12.4 points per game. Chicago accomplished this even though two full-time defensive starters from the 1984 season — safety Todd Bell and linebacker Al Harris — sat out the entire season because of contract disputes. Bell was even a Pro Bowler in 1984.
— Chicago was outgained only once in the entire season, in a 45-10 win over the Redskins in Week 4. Down 10-0 in the first quarter, the Bears scored 31 in the second.
— The “46” defense was named after hard-hitting former Chicago defensive back Doug Plank, who wore No. 46 and retired after the 1982 season. He summed it up thusly: “We’re going to get to know your backup quarterback today.”
— Three future NFL head coaches played for the 1985 Bears: Leslie Frazier, Mike Singletary and Ron Rivera, who has led the Carolina Panthers into Super Bowl 50. Rams Coach Jeff Fisher also was on the team but was on injured reserve with an ankle injury that eventually ended his playing career. He served as a “pseudo assistant” to defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, according to the Bears website.
— Along with Tom Flores, Bears Coach Mike Ditka is the only person to win an NFL title as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
— Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan famously did not get along because owner George Halas had given Ryan complete control of the team defense (they even rode on separate buses than the offense). Ditka did not have the power to fire him. When asked if he was happy Ryan was leaving to coach the Philadelphia Eagles a few weeks after the Super Bowl, Ditka responded: “Happy? No, I’m not happy. I’m elated.” Ryan’s defensive players, meanwhile, adored him:
— Including the postseason, the Bears went 15-3-1 against the spread in the 1985-86 season. They pushed as eight-point favorites in Week 5 against the Bucs, failed to cover the nine-point spread in a 16-10 win over the Packers in Week 9, lost outright as two-point favorites against the Dolphins in Week 13 and failed to cover the 19.5-point spread in a 17-10 win over the Colts in Week 14.
— The Bears’ loss to the Dolphins in Week 13 remains the highest-rated “Monday Night Football” game in history, pulling down a 29.6 rating. Forty-six percent of all TVs in America that were turned on were tuned in to the game.
— In Week 11, the Bears handed the Dallas Cowboys their worst loss ever, 44-0, the first time Dallas had been shut out since 1970.
— Rookie defensive tackle William Perry was known famously as “Refrigerator” but defensive lineman Dan Hampton called him “Biscuit,” because he was “a biscuit shy of 350 pounds.”
— Perry’s Super Bowl ring was a size 25 and was described as the largest NFL championship ring ever produced when Perry auctioned it off last year. It fetched $203,150.
— This happened in the Bears’ first playoff game against the Giants that season:
— In Super Bowl XX, the Patriots gained positive yardage on only one of their first 16 plays, a three-yard run by Craig James. The other 15 plays resulted in three sacks, seven incomplete passes and five runs for zero or negative yards.
— The Bears often are knocked for not getting the great Walter Payton a score in the Super Bowl, but the Patriots’ schemed to stop him, throwing three and four defenders at him each time he got the ball. He finished with just 61 rushing yards on 22 carries. He twice had chances to score from inside the Patriots 5 on separate series, losing two yards from the 3 and gaining two yards from the 4. New England recovered Payton’s fumble on the second play of the game, leading to a field goal.
— The 1985 Bears didn’t get their White House visit until 2011. Because the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded two days after Super Bowl XX, they never took their trip to Washington.