Steve McMichael is one of the names I consider to be synonymous with Monsters of the Midway. Right there with Dan Hampton, Samurai Mike, Richard Dent, Brian Urlacher, and Dick Butkus. Mongo embodies the Chicago Bears in so many ways, and Bears fans across the world were shocked at the revelation yesterday that he is in a battle with ALS.
ALS is short for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is also known as "Lou Gehrig's disease". In short, the disease forces nerve cells to break down, reducing functionality in the muscles those nerves supply. Symptoms include muscle weakness, coordination issues, muscle spasms, fatigue, among other issues. The cause of ALS is unknown, but medication and therapy can slow the symptoms of ALS and reduce discomfort. Costs for treatment are mounting, and friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe page to help with those expenses, which can be found right here.
Mongo's legs are weakening, and he is using a customized wheelchair provided by the Chicago Bears. Given the lack of lifetime healthcare benefits for retired NFL players, any donations would go a long way. Mongo has raised millions of dollars for various charities in his life and plans to use his notoriety to help raise money for families living with ALS. First though, Steve, his wife Misty, and their 13-year old daughter Macy need to get him the immediate care that he needs, as well as find a handicap-accessible home and van.
Steve McMichael was a consensus All-American in his senior season at the University of Texas - Austin, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in 1980, but was released before his second season. Upon release, he signed with the Bears and became a local icon playing for the Bears from 1981-1993. In Mongo's own words:
"Thank God New England got rid of me. Some teams, they want you to have a certain image. Other teams, like this one, they just want you to get down and dirty. I’m really proud to be a Bear. The Patriots, yeah, they thought I was a little weird. And I guess I am. But here they don’t care, long as you play hard. The town, the coach, the team — it’s Steve McMichael. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else."
I personally believe that McMichael has been snubbed on the NFL Hall of Fame for years because there are already so many players from the 1985 Bears in the Hall of Fame. The man racked up 95 sacks in his career from the DT position, averaging eight sacks per season from 1982-1993. He ranks third all-time in sacks among DTs, behind only John Randle and Warren Sapp.
He achieved two Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro bids, and two second-team All-Pro bids as a defensive tackle for the Bears. Mongo was an integral piece to the 1980s Bears defensive units, as well as a key piece for the 1985 Super Bowl Shuffling Crew. He played his final season in 1994 in Green Bay, and had this to say about it:
"For 13 years, I helped the Bears beat the Packers every year. I whipped their ass, right? So the last year, I went up there on my last leg and I wasn't any good anymore. So I stole their money and whipped their ass again!"
McMichael is still a mainstay in the world of the Chicago Bears to this day. He co-hosts a Bears pre-game show with Jeff Dickerson on ESPN 1000. He can regularly be seen around town, and when you are in the same restaurant or bar as Mongo, it is easy to realize he is there as his personality and boisterous nature breeds a good time.