SI Vault
 
The brawny and brainy Bears
Craig Neff
November 26, 1984
Chicago leads the NFC Central thanks largely to its complex defense
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 26, 1984

The Brawny And Brainy Bears

Chicago leads the NFC Central thanks largely to its complex defense

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

Richard Dent: 6'5", 253, second-year defensive end who leads NFC in sacks with 14. Nicknamed "The Colonel," for his always-straight-ahead pass rush. "He only does one thing," explains Ryan. Does it right, however.

Al Harris: He was a defensive end last year. The Bears tried him at outside linebacker and liked what they saw. There's a lot to like, he's 6'5" and 253 pounds.

Mike Hartenstine: 6'3", 258, 10th-year defensive end. Nicknamed "Iron Mike" for his 143-game playing streak. Refused to sit out even with a surgical steel pin sticking out of his broken thumb. "Looked like a horseshoe nail," says Hampton proudly.

McMichael: 6'2", 263 self-described "madman" of defense. Devoted life to football after reading book on Butkus. Rattlesnake hunter in off-season. Shook up a preseason Platteville, Wis. Chamber of Commerce pig roast with his rousing rendition of Up Against the Wall Redneck. Hampton handled the guitar.

Gary Fencik: Swashbuckling veteran safety. Smart, daring. He's also a Yalie, which didn't prevent a recent poll by The Washington Post from naming him the second-dirtiest player in the league—behind the L.A. Raiders' entire defense.

There are other reasons, too, for Chicago's defensive strength, including an improved Bear offense that controls the ball for nearly 35 minutes a game. But most of the credit still belongs to Ryan. As Hampton has said, "If the offensive coordinators around the league got together, they'd probably have him assassinated." For now, however, they watch films of his defenders in action, about as often as teenagers watch MTV.

1 2