Argue all you want about which is the best team in NFL annals. The Pro Football Hall of Fame has opted for the 1985 Chicago Bears.
The Canton shrine will premiere “85: THE GREATEST TEAM IN FOOTBALL HISTORY ” on Jan. 3. It will then hit theaters nationwide on Jan. 29.
The documentary focuses on the dominant Super Bowl 20 championship team coached by Mike Ditka, and including a cast of characters as colorful as the coach.
Dan Hampton and Jim McMahon, two stars from that team that went 15-1, shut out the Rams and Giants in the NFC playoffs before beating the Patriots 46-10 in the Super Bowl, will attend the premiere. Afterward, actor Matt Walsh, who narrated the film, will lead a panel discussion with the Bears players, documentary director Scott Prestin, and Hall of Fame executive director and noted historian Joe Horrigan.
The documentary includes interviews with members of the ‘85 team, including Hall of Famers Mike Singletary, Hampton and Ditka, plus McMahon, Steve McMichael, Willie Gault, and Otis Wilson, who co-produced the film. Famous Chicagoans such as President Barack Obama, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, actor Bill Murray, and sports commentators Michael Wilbon and Chris Myers, and offer their perspectives.
Profiled are such players as Hall of Famer Walter Payton, McMahon, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, and Ditka.
BE CAREFUL, GUYS!: The head-to-head hit levied by Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis on Green Bay receiver Davante Adams drew more than a two-game suspension that on appeal was reduced to one.
It caught the attention of a lot of coaches and players around the league, as calls for a safer game ratcheted up yet again. The Packers decried the blind-side block, which Davis apologized for, that occurred during an interception return by the Panthers.
Well, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer has an idea.
“I think with those you should screen them like a basketball guy instead of hitting them. You can knock the heck out of them even if you don’t hit them in the neck and head area. You can screen them and get the job done, and you know you’re not going to get anybody hurt,” said Zimmer.
He recalled one of his players when he was defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, linebacker Keith Rivers, suffer a season-ending broken jaw from a hit by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward that was similar to the one by Davis on Adams.
Said Zimmer, whose Vikings were preparing this week to play the Packers without Adams: “I think we’ve got to continue to try to be safer with all those things.”
KIFFIN FAN: Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake was surprised to hear coach Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls beat Akron 50-3 in the Boca Raton Bowl.
“They only scored 50?” Drake said with a laugh. “Wow, that’s impressive. I heard he signed a 10-year contract, too? Leave it to Lane to sign a 10-year contract. That’s pretty cool.”
Kiffin was Alabama’s offensive coordinator when Drake played there. He finished his first season at FAU on a 10-game winning streak and agreed to a 10-year extension.
“He’s real down to earth, just want to enjoy the moment type of guy. That’s what I love about him,” Drake said. “I wish him much more success at FAU. Hopefully he’ll invite me to more games.”
WATT LAUDED: J.J. Watt’s work in hurricane relief came in second on this year’s list of Top 10 Communication Moments, as compiled by Decker Communications.
Watt’s fundraising for victims of Hurricane Harvey finished behind only the #MeToo Moment of October in the survey.
“A surprisingly important moment occurred the day after Hurricane Harvey landed on the Gulf Coast and wreaked havoc on Houston,” wrote Decker, a leading business communication training, coaching and consulting firm. “NFL star J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans made a fundraising appeal for $200,000 to help the communities and people of Houston rebuild and recover. Little did he know that his video appeal on Twitter would multiply more than a hundred-fold — as of September, it was well over $37,000,000.
“Talk about inspiring your audience to action! A man of humble confidence, Watt didn’t put himself in the front of his cause, but he positioned the people of Houston as most important to his heart.”
Decker notes that Watt showed one person can make a difference, “a big difference when he or she is authentic and straightforward. Authentic appeals pack a punch. While it’s easy to get hung up on which specific words to use, sometimes a less-scripted ask yields better results because it’s more real. Plus, it helps to leverage the power of social media, and use it skillfully, to multiply the power of one into hundreds and thousands — even millions.”
MORE HURRICANE HELP: USA Football, the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, has teamed with Riddell to give $106,000 in grants to 53 high school and youth football organizations across Florida and Texas that lost equipment and resources due to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma this year.
USA Football’s Disaster Relief Grant Program awarded $1,000 grants to each school and youth league, which was then matched by Riddell.
In partnership with the NFL Foundation, USA Football annually provides equipment donations to youth and high school football organizations that are affected by floods, earthquakes, fire, theft and other natural disasters.
“Sports are about community, teamwork and support, and we are pleased to do our small part by offering much-needed equipment grants to youth and high school organizations who have been impacted by situations beyond their control,” said USA Football CEO Scott Hallenbeck.
“Youth and high school sports, especially football, are an important part of the fabric of communities nationwide, but none more than those affected in Texas and Florida. To be able to step in and support them during this challenging time, with a partner like USA Football, is especially rewarding for Riddell,” said Riddell President and CEO Dan Arment.
AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Dave Campbell, and Sports Writer Steven Wine contributed.
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