Just days ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears learned that one of their former stars, Steve McMichael, is battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It is also commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was first diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic back in January.
Steve “Mongo” McMichael is currently 63-years-old. However, he is a five-time NFL All-Pro that played 191 regular-season games for Chicago in his career. “Mongo” played for the Bears from 1981 until 1993.
The Bears legend relayed the sad news himself to Dan Weirderer of the Chicago Tribune. He also told Jarrett Payton, the son of McMichael’s former teammate, the great Walter Payton.
“I’m not going to be out in the public anymore,” McMichael announced. “You’re not going to see me out doing appearances — hell I can’t even sign my name anymore. Everybody’s going to be speculating, ‘Where’s McMichael, what’s wrong with him?’ I’m here to tell everyone I’ve been diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, so I’m not going to be a public figure anymore.”
“Mongo” said that this was one diagnosis that he did not see coming.
“I promise you, this epitaph that I’m going to have on me now?” McMichael said. “This ain’t ever how I envisioned this was going to end…I thought I was ready for anything. But man, this will sneak up on you like a cheap-shotting Green Bay Packer.”
Mike Ditka Reacts to Steve McMichael Being Diagnosed with ALS
Many former Chicago Bears, including Steve McMichael’s teammates and coaches, have spoken about the former star as both a player and a person.
Longtime Bears head coach Mike Ditka was still trying to process the news on Friday afternoon. However, he told the Chicago Sun-Times that McMichael was a joy to coach and a pleasure to be around.
“The way Steve conducted himself and played for the Bears in those years is a great example to all the young players,” Ditka explained. “He was a hard worker. He was a no-nonsense guy He didn’t take any [garbage] from anybody, including his teammates. You had to love him. You had to love his spirit and the way he went about playing the game. He was special. He didn’t have all the talent that Richard and Dan and some of the other guys had, but he gave it everything he had all the time, and you’ve gotta love that.”
The New England Patriots actually drafted Steve McMichael in the third round of the 1980 NFL Draft. However, they cut him just a year later. That allowed the Bears to quickly scoop him up and insert him into the starting lineup. And the rest is history.
McMichael ultimately finished his Bears career with 814 tackles and 92.5 sacks. In addition, he was also able to snag two interceptions. He ranks second in franchise history in sacks and third in total tackles. Meanwhile, he also performed as a professional wrestler from 1995 until 1999.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay the medical costs for Steve McMichael. As it currently stands, more than $32,000 has been raised for the former Bears legend.