Former Bears great Steve McMichael battling ALS
Steve "Mongo" McMichael is a larger than life titan of the Chicago sports scene. The legendary defensive tackle helped the Bears win Super Bowl XX, and was a two-time All-Pro, playing for the Bears from 1981 to 1993. He became a star in World Championship Wrestling, a coach in the Continental Indoor Football League and a well-known sports radio personality after his playing days were over.
Which is why it's so jarring for Bears fans to hear McMichael is battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which is the progressive nervous system disease which disrupts the brain's ability to communicate with muscles. The cause of the disease is unknown and there is no cure.
McMichael, 63, told WGN's Jarrett Payton he was first diagnosed with ALS in September at the Mayo Clinic. The diagnosis was confirmed in a second opinion Jan. 7 by doctors at Rush University Medical Center. Doctors believe the disease likely began setting in as early as 36 months ago.
McMichael's wife of 23 years, Misty, is taking care of him at their home in Romeoville. The couple has a 13-year-old daughter Macy.
McMichael can no longer raise his arms or hold anything in his hands. His leg strength is also failing.
A GoFundMe page has been created by friends to help the family with medical costs. They have also created a website, teammongo76.com, and a Facebook page, @TeamMongo76, where they will provide updates.
Well wishes poured in from all across the Chicago community and football community. The Bears sent out a tweet with #TeamMongo and a photo from McMichael's playing days.
ESPN radio's Marc Silverman of the "Waddle and Silvy" on show ESPN AM-1000 wrote that McMichael is "the most underrated Bears player of all time. He is also underrated as a person." McMichael worked for the radio station after his playing days were over.
He is a man of many talents, too.
McMichael could often be found around the Chicago area playing music with the Chicago 6 Band. The band formed during downtime caused by the 1987 NFL players' strike and originally included McMichael, Dan Hampton, Otis Wilson, Walter Payton and Dave Duerson.
McMichael ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Romeoville in 2013, and has a restaurant, Mongo McMichael's, in Romeoville.
McMichael grew up in Texas and played college football for the Texas Longhorns. He is in the College Football Hall of Fame. The New England Patriots drafted him in the third round of the 1980 draft but cut him prior to his second season. He signed with the Bears as a free agent and played for the team 13 years.
He played in the 1986 and 1987 Pro Bowls and was voted All-Pro in 1985 and 1987. He ended his career with a brief stint with the Green Bay Packers in 1994.
In 2019, to mark the organization's 100th anniversary, the Bears released a list of the top 100 Bears of all time. McMichael came in at No. 19.