Bears legend McMichael reveals ALS diagnosis

    Dickerson covers the Chicago Bears for ESPN’s NFL Nation. He is the co-host of “Dickerson & Hood” on the ESPN Radio national network, and is heard in Chicago on ESPN 1000.

CHICAGO — Steve McMichael, the charismatic former Chicago Bears Super Bowl champion defensive lineman and ex-WCW professional wrestler, revealed in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that doctors diagnosed him with ALS three months ago.

“I promise you, this epitaph that I’m going to have on me now? This ain’t ever how I envisioned this was going to end,” McMichael told the paper.

McMichael, 63, now uses a specialized wheelchair — that Bears ownership volunteered to pay for — after the disease robbed him of the use of the majority of his limbs.

“What I used to be is the antithesis of what I am now,” said McMichael, nicknamed “Mongo” in tribute to Alex Karras’ character in Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy “Blazing Saddles.” “This is a humbling thing, brother.”

The five-time All-Pro originally was drafted in the third round by the New England Patriots in 1980 but became a legend in Chicago where he started 191 consecutive games and starred on defense from 1981-93. He is still second in franchise history with 92.5 sacks, and McMichael’s peers considered him one of the smartest defensive tackles to ever play the position.

McMichael spent his final NFL season (1994) with the hated Green Bay Packers, but liked to tell people in retirement that the only reason he signed with the Bears’ bitter rival was to, “steal their money and whoop their ass again!”

ALS has not deprived McMichael of his trademark sense of humor.

“I thought I was ready for anything,” McMichael said of his ALS diagnosis. “But man, this will sneak up on you like a cheap-shotting Green Bay Packer.”

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