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This Week in Illinois History: Bears shuffle over Patriots at Super Bowl XX (January 26, 1986)

On January 26, 1986, over 92 million people tuned in to watch Super Bowl 20. The NFC champion Chicago Bears faced the New England Patriots at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. This was the first Super Bowl appearance for both teams.

1985 was a storied year for the Chicago Bears. Its lineup of big personalities dominated the public’s imagination as much as they dominated on the field. Quarterback Jim McMahon’s punk-rock attitude made him a national celebrity; Running Back Walter Payton was the NFL’s all-time leading rusher; linebacker Mike Singletary was the NFL Defensive Player of the year; and the nation adored the lovable, 300-pound rookie defensive tackle, William “Refrigerator” Perry.

And who can forget the Super Bowl Shuffle, the awkward but endearing rap song featuring the team’s heavy hitters? It raised over $300,000 for charity.

The Bears went 15-1 that season, becoming only the second team to win 15 regular-season games. Then they shut out both opponents in the playoffs.

And in one of the biggest blowouts in Super Bowl history, the Bears defeated the Patriots 46 to 10. Defensive end Richard Dent was named Most Valuable Player. And despite the contentious relationship between Coach Mike Ditka and Defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, both coaches got carried off the field that day.

Clint Cargile is the host of This Week in Illinois History and the creator and host of the podcast Drinkin’ with Lincoln.
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