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Chicago Bears History: The Ditka Era

The Chicago Bears have been through some lean times in the years since George “Papa Bear” Halas retired after the 1967 season and the NFL-AFL merger, creating pro football as we know it, went down three years later. But if you came of age in the 1980s, the Bears were a powerhouse. From 1984-91 this franchise defined the old NFC Central.

It was the time of Iron Mike Ditka as head coach and one of the great defenses of all-time. You had a colorful coordinator in Buddy Ryan putting the scheme together and a Hall of Fame inside linebacker in Mike Singletary who pulled off being both ferocious and studious. Defense defined the Bears in this era.

So did simply having fun. There were colorful players like Dan Hampton, Gary Fencik and quarterback Jim McMahon. There were future head coaches like Jeff Fisher and Leslie Frazier in the secondary.

And of course there was Walter. One of the great running backs of all-time, Walter Payton broke the record for all-time rushing yardage at the beginning of this era, retired midway through and his ultimate coronation to Super Bowl champion in 1985 was something sports fans across the country were glad to see.

They played hard, hit hard, routinely made the playoffs and in one glorious year, won it all. It was the time of the and Da Bears SNL skit. Here’s a compilation of articles that take you through each notable season of the Ditka Era in Chicago Bears history.

1984: In his third year, Ditka makes the Bears relevant again.

1985: The Bears dominate the league and win the Super Bowl.

1986: Another big year, but quarterback woes doom the repeat bid.

1987: They clear their path to the Super Bowl, then fall short.

1988: More dominance, another home playoff loss.

1989: After a promising start, the season suddenly falls apart.

1990: A new quarterback and an old result—back to the playoffs.

1991: Strong season, late fade

1992: A lost season brings down the curtain on the Ditka Era.

Other Notable Content
1977: Payton’s MVP year leads the Bears to a surprising playoff berth
1979: A dramatic closing surge leads to another playoff spot.