For millions of fans, the 1985 Chicago Bears were more than a football team. They were the greatest football team ever—a gang of colorful nuts dancing and pounding their way to victory. This was the first NFL team to really cross over, to become pop stars. Their ascent marks the beginning of the modern game.
Bears (and former BYU) quarterback Jim McMahon was the first athlete to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone. For his new book, “Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football,” Rich Cohen tracked down players and asked them everything he ever wanted to know, including: What happens when you are 28 and have already lived your dream? How do you find meaning? How do you contribute when you are old and the speed is gone? Cohen says he came away with a map for how and how not to live. He says that a football player like McMahon teaches us how to get old, even how to die. (Because football players die twice).The 1985 Bears are also at the center of the concussion crisis: no defense was nastier, none knocked out more quarterbacks. Dave Duerson was on this team--he was the player who, fearing he had CTE, shot himself in the chest two years ago. Jim McMahon, the QB and leader, has become a head-trauma poster boy. Cohen addresses the question: What happens to the legacy of a team built around the knockout blow when the values of the game are rewritten?