In 1985, I fell in love with the Chicago Bears. It was hard not to do, with players like the great Walter Payton, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, the wacky quarterback Jim McMahon, and of course the coach, Mike Ditka, the team was loaded with characters. Steam rolling their opponents on the way to a 15-1 regular season record, I began to cheer and root for them to win each week. They were must see tv. By the time the Super Bowl Shuffle debuted, it was a done deal.
There was only one problem; I was raised as a Dallas Cowboys fan. But my Cowboys were mediocre at best and I just couldn’t help myself. Those Bears were so flashy and dominant, and always in the headlines. That Christmas, I tore open my Chicago Bears kids uniform and officially boarded the bandwagon.
I proudly wore my Walter Payton jersey for the world to see. I rapped the words to the Super Bowl Shuffle as my father shook his head, wondering where he went wrong. He's had been a Cowboys fan since the glory years of Roger Staubach, and now his own son had abandoned ship. It didn't help that the Bears whipped the Cowboys 44-0 at Texas stadium.
I cheered mightily as the Bears crushed the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. I still loved the Cowboys, but the Bears were exciting. Mike Singletary and Richard Dent anchored the stingy Buddy Ryan defense. Mike Ditka stalked the sidelines, and who could forget Perry's touchdown? Sure it should have been Payton's moment but I didn't care as I as the Bears demolished the lowly Pats. It was too much for a ten year old kid to resist.
The next season, as the novelty wore off (and the wins), I hopped off the bandwagon and came back to the Cowboys. I dusted off my Danny White jersey and haven't wavered since. Now the Cowboys haven't won anything in a while, and I fear that my son may wander off and find himself a winner at some point during his childhood. As long as it's not the Redskins we'll be okay.
My brief period as a bandwagon fan was fun and I'm not ashamed. I was a kid, and a team like the '85 Bears doesn't come around often. Walter Payton was a great player as well as a great man and I'm glad I was around to watch him play. Every time he touched the ball something magical could happen. Today, the only thing that remains of my bandwagon season is a song, I still know most of the words to the Super Bowl Shuffle.