Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Review of "The Chicago Bears and Super Bowl XX: The Rise and Self-Destruction of the Greatest Football Team In History," by John Mullen

 Review of

The Chicago Bears and Super Bowl XX: The Rise and Self-Destruction of the Greatest Football Team In History, by John Mullen ISBN 1572437901

Five out of five stars

They were great, but not as long as they could have been

 There are many convincing arguments that the 1985 Chicago Bears were the best team in NFL history. The statistics on their dominance are amazing.  Pat Summerall and John Madden, two of the most knowledgeable football followers, both firmly believed it. During that season, they were the most popular topic for discussion, both on and off the field.

 For a short time, William “The Refrigerator” Perry was the most well-known person in the sports world. Weighing somewhere around 350 pounds and a defensive tackle, he was surprisingly agile and was used as a running back and pass receiver on offense. Yet, the incredible fame and massive number of endorsements by some of the players and the head coach Mike Ditka proved to be a cancer on the cohesion of the team. There are still many questions regarding how good a coach Mike Ditka really was. To this day there are debates as to whether the 1985 Bears succeeded in spite of or because of him.

 All of these issues make this a fascinating book. It shows how fleeting even the highest levels of success can be. Yet, it must be kept in mind that the Bears were still very good in later years. Their record in 1986 was 14 and 2, in 1987 it was 11 and 4 and in 1988 it was 12 and 4. All good enough to get into the playoffs, where they went down to defeat.

 All teams have internal machinations that can be either positive or negative. In this case, many of them were negative. As Mullen states very clearly, jealousies over the amount of media coverage, the amount being earned by endorsements and some very foolish statements and moves by management kept the Bears from doing what they were perfectly capable of doing, winning another Super Bowl. As is made clear in this book, the team did largely self-destruct, although it was incremental rather than dramatic.

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