Steve “Mongo” McMichael Reveals Battle with ALS

Steve McMichael is one of the names I consider synonymous with Middle Way Monsters. Right up there with Dan Hampton, Samurai Mike, Richard Dent, Brian Urlacher and Dick Butkus. Mongo embodies the Chicago Bears in many ways, and all Bears fans were shocked by yesterday’s revelation that he suffers from ALS.

ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In a nutshell, the disease leads to the breakdown of nerve cells, which causes the muscles that feed these nerves to work less well. Symptoms include muscle weakness, in coordination, muscle cramps and fatigue. The cause of ALS is unknown, but there are medications and therapies that can slow down and make the symptoms of ALS less severe. The cost of treatment is rising, and friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe page to help cover those costs, which you can find here.

Mongo’s legs are getting weaker and he uses a special wheelchair provided by the Chicago Bears. Given the lack of lifetime medical benefits for retired NFL players, any donation would be a great help. Throughout his life, Mongo has raised millions of dollars for various charities and he plans to use his fame to raise money for families living with ALS. But first, Steve, his wife Misty and their 13-year-old daughter Macy must immediately get him the help he needs and find him an affordable apartment and van.

Steve McMichael was a consensus All-American in his final season at the University of Texas-Austin and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in 1980, but was fired before his second season. After his release, he signed with the Bears and became a local icon. He played for the Bears from 1981 to 1993. According to Mongo itself:

Thank God New England is off my back. Some teams want you to have a certain image. Other teams, like this team, want you to just go for it. I’m very proud to be a bear. Patriots, yeah, they thought I was a little strange. And I think it is. But they don’t care here, as long as you play hard. The city, the coach, the team is Steve McMichael. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Personally, I think McMichael has been in the NFL Hall of Fame for years because so many of the 1985 Bears players are already in the Hall of Fame. During his career, he made 95 sacks from the DT position, averaging eight per season from 1982 to 1993. He ranks third in sacks among DTs, behind John Randle and Warren Sapp.

As a defensive tackle for the Bears, he won two Pro Bowls, two First-Team All-Pro and two Second-Team All-Pro. Mongo was an integral part of the Bears’ defensive units in the 1980s and played a key role in the team’s selection to the 1985 Super Bowl. He had his final season in Green Bay in 1994 and had this to say about it:

For 13 years, I helped the Bears beat the Packers every year. I kicked their asses, didn’t I? Last year I went for the last time, and I was not well anymore. So I stole their money and kicked their asses again!

To this day, McMichael is a fixture in the world of the Chicago Bears. He is the co-anchor of the Bears pre-game show with Jeff Dickerson on ESPN 1000. You’ll see him around town regularly, and if you’re in the same restaurant or bar as Mongo, you’ll know he’s there right away, because his personality and bubbly nature are fun to watch.

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