Fans roar for Bears Hall of Famers
Looking dapper in his gold Hall of Fame sports jacket, Dick Butkus addressed a Soldier Field audience.
And at 73, the gruff-voiced old Bear still roars. Still fires up Bears fans.
"I don't want some steroid freak wrecking the game I love," Butkus said when asked by an on-the-field reporter about his I Play Clean campaign, which he hopes will end steroid abuse among young athletes.
Bears fans roared back at Butkus, who was on hand to receive his Ring of Excellence as part of a special presentation at halftime on Monday night. He was joined by fellow Hall of Fame Bears Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Gale Sayers, all of whom also sported gold jackets and equally bright smiles and received their new jewelry. The rings represent elite status for being members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It was 1994 when Butkus and Sayers had their jersey Nos. 51 and 40 retired on a Halloween night at Soldier Field in front of a Monday Night Football audience. The Bears lost 33-6 to the Packers on a rainy evening that was miserable in more ways than one for the home team. Fast-forward exactly 22 years, and this time the Bears played a game that didn't frighten their alumni.
OK, so it wasn't Butkus, Dent and "Hamp." But the 2016 Bears played their best defensive game in a season that included just 1 win through eight weeks.
The Bears were up 20-10 late in the fourth, with their 5 sacks tying their season high set in Week 5 against Indianapolis.
They sacked Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford four times in the opening half, and that included Pernell McPhee's big-league hit that caused a fumble, which the Vikings recovered.
The last sack, which resulted in a 10-yard loss thanks to Akiem Hicks' bull rush, capped a goal-line stand for the Bears after the Vikings had first-and-goal from the 3 at the two-minute warning.
Minnesota settled for Blair Walsh's 30-yard field goal with 25 seconds left, pulling the visitors within 13-3 at halftime.
A week earlier, Bradford was sacked six times by the Eagles, as the Vikings suffered their first loss after starting the season with five straight wins. Cornelius Washington notched the Bears' first sack, chasing down a scrambling Bradford in the first quarter.
Then early in the second, the ninth overall pick in the 2016 draft flashed his speed and pass-rush skills again. Leonard Floyd dropped Bradford for his third sack in two games.
McPhee, playing just his second game of the season after missing the first six while recovering from off-season knee surgery, was active all night. He had three hits on Bradford through three quarters, as the Bears built a 20-3 advantage.
Hicks added his second sack and fourth of the season early in the fourth. He had 3 sacks in 16 combined games with New Orleans and New England last season.
Later in the fourth, the Bears delivered another hard hit. Middle linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman sandwiched and popped a Vikings receiver on a short pass, causing an incompletion.
Somewhere in Soldier Field, Butkus had to be smiling.