What The '85 Bears Look Like Now

For those unaware, the 1985 Chicago Bears are widely considered to be among the best football teams to ever hit the gridiron. With an offense led by quarterback Jim McMahon and running back Walter Payton, the Bears ran roughshod over the league that year with a 15-1 regular season record and an easy 46-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. 

It was a team that had it all (and knew it, as evidenced by their cornball novelty rap song, "The Super Bowl Shuffle"): the sublime greatness of Payton (who unfortunately died in 1999), a decent QB who suddenly decided to start playing like a Hall of Famer at exactly the right time, and one of the greatest linebacking corps of all time running a defensive scheme nobody could figure out. It also boasted its fair share of extremely interesting characters, many of whom are still around doing notable stuff today. Here's what the '85 Bears look like now, and what they've been up to lately.

Jim McMahon

Jim McMahon was the fifth overall pick in the 1982 NFL Draft, but it wasn't immediately apparent that he was destined for Super Bowl glory. His first season — shortened by a players' strike — resulted in a 3-6 record, and his second was a so-so 8-8. But the Bears improved to 10-6 in 1984 as a warmup act for that almost-undefeated 1985 season, even as McMahon was becoming just as well-known for his antics off the field as for his exploits on it (via ESPN). He was known to party like a rock star, always wearing sunglasses and living it up at Chicago hot spots.

McMahon never again reached the heights of the Bears' '85 campaign, perpetually hampered by injuries. According to the Virginian-Pilot, McMahon suffered a lacerated kidney, a broken neck, and numerous concussions, at one point considering suicide as a way to alleviate the constant physical pain. He told the Chicago Tribune that he still suffers from serious headaches, memory loss, depression, vision problems, and was diagnosed with dementia. Chiropractic treatments have helped with his neck issues, as has medical marijuana, which he said helped end his dependence on prescription painkillers, of which he was taking as many as 100 a month. In addition to adding his name to a class-action lawsuit against the NFL alleging negligence when it came to concussions, he also signed up to be part of "Renegades," a Las Vegas show in which he and fellow athletes Jose Canseco and Terrell Owens discussed their rowdy years.

Willie Gault

Among the 1985 Chicago Bears more formidable and consistent weapons: Willie Gault, a wide receiver with rockets for feet who also doubled as the Bears' kick returner. During the '85 season, he even returned a kick 99 yards for a touchdown, showing off the skills he picked up as a world-class sprinter and hurdler in college. Perhaps his most valuable contribution was keeping every opponent's best defender winded and frustrated for the entire game. He simply tried to be the fastest guy on the field at all times.

After his NFL career, Gault returned to his first love of track and field. According to Fox Sports, he broke the world records in both the 100- and 200-meter dash for the 45-49 age group, then waited a few years and broke the same records in the 50-54 age group. Then, upon turning 55, he went ahead and broke those records again in the 55-59 group. Even though he's now over 60, he could probably outrun half of the NFL's defensive backs.

Richard Dent

Richard Dent's very surname announced what the defensive end could very well do to the opposing team's quarterback's skull each play. In their Super Bowl victory, the '85 Bears' defense slapped the Patriots all over the field, but it was Dent who was named the game's MVP after recording 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. These days, he's bringing his tenacity to fight for a worthy cause: health insurance for football greats. In 2018, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Dent was among a group of 22 retired players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who threatened to break off their relationship with the institution if they didn't receive an annual pension and help paying for the medical care they needed after playing a physically taxing sport (two things available to every Major League Baseball veteran, regardless of Hall of Fame status). He was also part of a $1 billion lawsuit (via NPR) against the NFL along with Jim McMahon, which claims that players were not properly informed about the long-term risks of brain trauma.

Never one to shy away from voicing his opinion, Dent has even taken Mike Ditka to task for the Bears' failure to repeat. "We came back three years in a row and had home-field advantage. Our coach couldn't figure out the right quarterback to play," Dent told the Chicago Tribune. "We should have been the first team ever to win three Super Bowls in a row."

Mike Singletary

The anchor of the '85 Bears' fabled linebacking corps and the undisputed leader of the defense, middle linebacker Mike Singletary earned Defensive Player of the Year honors during that magical season by A) being the smartest man on the field at any given time, and B) crushing anyone in his path. It's only fitting that the 10-time Pro Bowl selection would go on to a second career as a coach. Singletary was named head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2008, and in three seasons compiled an underwhelming 18-22 record. He went on to similarly middling stints as linebackers coach for the Vikings and Rams before being named head coach of Trinity Christian-Addison, a high school, in 2018 — a gig which was destined to be a short one. 

In 2018, CBS Sports announced that Singletary would coach the Memphis Express, a franchise in the eight-team Alliance of American Football, an upstart, would-be NFL competitor. Singletary joined former NFL notables Brad Childress, Steve Spurrier, and Michael Vick among the coaching ranks of the AAF, which, according to the Washington Post, suspended play and business operations in April 2019 during its first and only season.

William Perry

Of all the popular players on the '85 Bears, none were bigger than rookie defensive lineman William "The Refrigerator" Perry, a charismatic defensive tackle and defensive end who earned his nickname for his size, listed at an appliance-like 6'2" and 335 pounds. However, Perry saw some playing time as a running back, because it would be foolhardy for opposing teams to even try and stop him; indeed, the Fridge scored one of the Bears' many touchdowns in its rout of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. In contrast to his imposing stature, Perry had a goofy, amiable, almost sweet personality that endeared the rookie instantly to his teammates and Bears fans. In addition to performing with his teammates on the "The Super Bowl Shuffle," Perry performed a solo rap song, "The Refrigerator Man."

After the end of his playing days in 1994, Perry has struggled with health and personal problems. In 2011, according to Sports Illustrated, Perry publicly revealed that he's an alcoholic. A stay in rehab, orders by doctors, and familial intervention didn't lead him to stop drinking, and by 2016, he'd lost most of his hearing, had difficulty walking without the aid of a walker, and his weight had grown to as high as 450 pounds. Perry's family believes he's exhibited symptoms of CTE, the traumatic brain condition caused by repeated concussions from which numerous former NFL players have suffered. He reportedly resides in an assisted living facility in Aiken, South Carolina.

Wilber Marshall

Linebacker Wilber Marshall was better known as the guy the opposition had to worry about in the unlikely event that they managed to avoid getting flattened by Mike Singletary. Marshall was just as strong in coverage as he was getting to the quarterback, and he would even sometimes sub for Singletary at the middle linebacker position on third downs. He was one of the more versatile players on the '85 Bears' storied defense — but his retirement has been marred by an adversarial relationship with the NFL. According to Hogs Haven, the Bears reneged on a guaranteed contract that should have paid Marshall a yearly salary for 19 years, but they cut him off after 11, forcing him to pay his own substantial medical bills for football-related health issues, including knee and shoulder replacements, spine and neck issues, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Additionally, the former linebacker has been frustrated by his lack of even consideration for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He's never been on a nominating ballot, despite a resume that could very well merit induction — in addition to his Super Bowl ring with the Bears, he won another title with Washington in 1991, and he was a pro Bowl selection three times. "It's really hard when you see some of the guys who are in there," Marshall said (via Bear Report). "I just don't get it."

Ron Rivera

A backup linebacker, Ron Rivera started 56 of 137 games over a nine-year career, all with the Chicago Bears, but he still racked up some impressive stats. He was almost as well-known for his involvement in the community as he was for his play on the field, taking home the Bears' 1988 Man of the Year award, and when his playing days were done, he underwent one of the more successful player-to-coach transitions in league history.

After a few years in the broadcasting booth, Rivera served on the coaching staffs of the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles, and then the Chicago Bears again, according to ESPN, before finally getting a promotion to head coach, named the leader of the Carolina Panthers in 2011. Under Rivera's leadership, the Panthers went from a woeful 2-14 the season prior to his arrival to perennial contenders, capturing three consecutive NFC South titles, guiding his team to the 2016 Super Bowl, and winning the AP's NFL Coach of the Year Award twice in three years (per USA Today). In 2019, a new Panthers owner fired Riveram (via NFL), but by 2020 he'd landed a new gig as coach of the Washington Commanders.

Leslie Frazier

For cornerback Leslie Frazier, 1985 was a bit of a double-edged sword. He led the team with six interceptions, watched his defense dominate nearly everybody they faced, and helped shut down the Patriots' receivers in their Super Bowl rout. However, in the second quarter of that game, he suffered a knee injury during a punt return that ended his playing career, per Sports Illustrated.

After helping out with the programs at Trinity International University and the University of Illinois, Frazier returned to the NFL in 1999 as the defensive backs coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, according to NBC Sports. He's been a mainstay on the sidelines of various clubs ever since, hired as the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, a defensive assistant for the Indianapolis Colts, and in 2010, the interim and then full-fledged head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. After posting a 21-32-1 record in four seasons, the Vikings terminated Frazier (via ESPN) in 2013. According to NBC Sports, Frazier joined the Buffalo Bills as defensive coordinator in 2017, and the team made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. They then opened the next season with massive, back-to-back losses, which resulted in head coach Sean McDermott stripping Frazier of his play-calling duties, according to Buffalo Rumblings. But Frazier kept his job, and after that disappointing 2018 season, the Bills reached the postseason in each of the next two years.

Kevin Butler

Place kicker Kevin "Butthead" Butler (seriously, that was his college nickname) enjoyed a stellar career as a Georgia Bulldog before joining the Bears as a rookie in 1985. His longest kick in college came in a pivotal game against Clemson, a 62-yard game-winner that his coach swore up and down would have been good from 70. His play in college was awesome enough to earn him an induction into the College Football Hall of Fame — the only place kicker ever enshrined — and he would eventually become the Bears' all-time leading scorer in his 11 seasons with the team, before having his ridiculous total of 1,116 points eclipsed by Robbie Gould in 2015, according to Bleacher Report. As a rookie in '85, he got things started off quickly, scoring 144 points (a single-season team high), proving himself to be virtually flawless on both field goal and PAT attempts.

After his retirement in 1997 (following a handful of games with the Arizona Cardinals), Butler went back to his home state of Georgia as well as the University of Georgia. According to the Chicago Tribune, Kevin Butler returned to his alma mater in 2017, re-enrolling to complete his degree and serve as an advisor to the football program.

Mike Richardson

One of the flashiest football-players-turned-rappers in the Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew's "The Super Bowl Shuffle" video, lithe and speedy cornerback Mike Richardson called himself "L.A. Mike" and declared, "I like to steal it and make 'em pay." He could back up those boasts; during the Bears' remarkable 15-1 record in 1985, Richardson intercepted the ball four times and returned it for an eye-popping 174 total yards. Drafted high in the second round by the Bears after an illustrious, All-American career at Arizona State (per The Independent), Richardson retired after a three-game run with the San Francisco 49ers in 1989 that yielded him another Super Bowl championship.

After his career on the field ended, Richardson struggled with addiction and legal issues. According to the Chicago Tribune, he'd been arrested on drug charges 21 times since he left football, and a 2008 case involving crack cocaine and methamphetamine possession nearly netted him a 13-year prison sentence, but former Bears associates Richard Dent and Mike Ditka pleaded with a judge to reduce it to one year and probation.

According to AZ Family, Richardson was convicted of a drug possession charge in 2019, and in December 2020, per the Chicago Tribune, police in Phoenix arrested Richardson on suspicion of murder, believing he shot and killed Ronald Like over a disagreement over a $200 parcel of cocaine. The former cornerback faced charges of second-degree murder and drug and weapons charges.

Mike Ditka

According to Britannica, "Iron Mike" Ditka is one of just two men in NFL history to win championships as a player, assistant coach (both with the Dallas Cowboys), and head coach, and his legacy was cemented with that legendary 1985 Chicago Bears season. Now over 80 years old, Ditka has long since retired from coaching. After the subpar 1992 season, by which time he'd become the second-winningest coach in Bears history, the team dismissed him. He returned to the NFL later in the decade, but, per ESPN, was fired by the New Orleans Saints in 2000 after a three-year, 15-33 stint.

The irascible Ditka easily slid into broadcasting, serving as an analyst on NFL presentations by NBC and ESPN. In a nationally broadcast radio interview prior to a 2017 "Monday Night football" game, Ditka discussed the protests underway in the NFL, in which players kneeled on one leg during the National Anthem as a silent but powerful admonition of racially-based police brutality. "All of a sudden, it's become a big deal now, about oppression," Ditka said (via the Chicago Tribune). "There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of." Later that week, Ditka publicly apologized via a statement to WGN (via USA Today). "I have absolutely seen oppression in society in the last 100 years and I am completely intolerant of any discrimination," Ditka clarified. "The interview was about the NFL and the related issues. That's where my head was at."