That's why, when he leaves Cabot to play football, Hampton squeezes every ounce of life out of the game. He screams encouragement at his teammates from the moment he steps onto the field. In his exuberance, he has been known to criticize Ditka's play-calling. "Run the clock out!" he'll growl from the sideline. "Sit on the ball!" That drives Ditka nuts. "Once he threw his clipboard at me," says Hampton. "He said, 'Here, you call the plays.' "
Being held by an opponent makes Hampton boil with rage. "You gutless s.o.b.," he'll shout to an official. "I feel like I'm taking dance lessons with these guys." Once, when San Francisco 49er center Fred Quillan didn't get the message to stop grabbing him. Hampton stomped on Quillan's hand.
Hampton will also poke fun at opponents. In the Cincinnati game this season he gave Esiason an earful while the Bengals were in the huddle. "Goldilocks," Hampton called in a singsong voice. "Oh, Goldilocks. Somebody is drinking all your Diet Coke." Exasperated, Esiason repeatedly flapped his arms to try to get Hampton to shut up.
His teammates are targets too. If the offense takes too long to break the huddle during practice, he'll yell in his best Rodney Dangerfield voice, "Hey, while we're young!" He takes delight in handing out nicknames. McMichael is Ming the Merciless. Perry is Biscuit, and cornerback Lemuel Stinson is Horsefly. Guard Mark (Bortzilla) Bortz has dubbed Hampton the King.
After the game against Cincinnati at Soldier Field, Hampton's face was ashen, and his eyes were dulled by exhaustion. Still, he looked every bit like the Bears' royal highness as he held court from a training table, ordered a double with cheese and puffed on an oversized stogie. "The only thing certain in life is death and taxes," he said. "And I've already paid a lot of taxes. You only live once, but if you do it right the first time, you won't wish for a second chance. When I go, I'll be smiling. I've already cut a big swath through a whole bunch of life."