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Swagger of 1985 Chicago Bears still vivid 30 years later

Baseball boasts the 1927 New York Yankees and mid-70s Big Red Machine. Hockey offers the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens. Basketball's best teams still take aim at the 72-win Chicago Bulls.

For football fans of a certain age, the 1985 Chicago Bears are fondly remembered as the most dominant force ever to stalk quivering prey on the gridiron.

This week marks the 30th anniversary of those Super Bowl XX champions, not just an NFL powerhouse but also a pop culture phenomenon peaking with the ubiquitous Super Bowl Shuffle -- a hit song that captured their unmatched swagger.

"Like the Beatles, there was a Bear for every sort of fan," Rich Cohen wrote in Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football. "Jim McMahon, the punky QB, for the cocky daredevils. Walter Payton, Sweetness, the great running back, for the aficionados. William Perry, the Fridge, the gap-toothed 325-pounder, for big tall men. Dan Hampton, Danimal, the ferocious defensive tackle, for band geeks filled with secret violence. Mike Ditka, the coach who actually looked like a bear, for lovers of Patton-like rhetoric and the military boot.

"They played with a gleeful excess that seemed a perfect expression of the city -- its character, its toughness, its heartbreaks, its history."

That character-laden outfit also boasted the ferocious, game-wrecking pass rushing trio of Richard Dent, Otis Wilson and Wilbur Marshall. Yale-educated free safety Gary Fencik was coined "The Hitman." Defensive tackle Steve McMichael would go on to become a title-holding professional wrestler.

The '85 Bears specialized in getting to know the other team's backup quarterback through a sequence of plays designed to break the enemy.

They would go on to win 18 games with just one loss, outscoring terrorized postseason opponents 91-10 with the most impressive display of pure physical might in the Super Bowl era.

Now the streaking Carolina Panthers have a chance to become the first team in 30 years to hoist the Lombardi Trophy with 18 wins versus just one loss.

You can bet that Ron Rivera, a backup linebacker and special teamer on that special '85 Bears squad, will drive home that point in the lead-up to Super Bowl 50.

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