Football in Chicago

By Cooley, Will | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview
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Football in Chicago


Cooley, Will, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society


Football in Chicago The Rise and Self-Destruction of the Greatest Football Team in History: The Chicago Bears and Super Bowl XX. By John Mullin. (Chicago: Triumph Books, 2005. Pp. xxv, 245. Illustrations, index. Cloth, $22.95).

In his book, Chicago Tribune football writer John Mullin recounts the championship season of the 1985 Chicago Bears, a team he calls arguably the best in National Football League history. The club used a dominant defense and potent offense to post a 15-1 regular season record and rolled through the playoffs, shutting out two opponents before hammering the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl 46-10. So with all of this winning, why is Mullin's account written as a tragedy?

In the era before the NFL instituted the hard salary cap, organizations could develop and hold onto their players, creating dynasties that won multiple Super Bowls. In the 1980s and 1990s the Bears 'National Football Conference rivals Washington Redskins, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and Dallas Cowboys all won more than one Lombardi Trophy, while the Bears faltered after their magical one-year run. Mullin's book takes the reader through the rise and gradual decline of this team, arguing that the Bears ultimately had too many large personalities to hold the team together. The book features plenty of insider details on team conflicts, players 'sexual conquests, and the city of Chicago's love affair with this collection of talent and celebrity. Mullin argues that the Bears were more than a dominant team. They were a cultural phenomenon. And he traces how the team ushered in a new era of big-dollar endorsement deals for players and Coach Mike Ditka.

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