Tragedy Hits the Bears Family

Defensive tackle Steve McMichael has ALS and the 1985 Bears are rallying around him.
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Bears defensive tackle great Steve McMichael is suffering from ALS and it has progressed to a point where it has affected his ability to walk.

According to a report by the Chicago Tribune's Dan Wiederer, McMichael first started having symptoms of the degenerative nerve condition known as Lou Gehrig's Disease last fall with a tingling in his arm. His condition has rapidly deteriorated.

"I thought I was ready for anything," McMichael told Wiederer, "But man. This will sneak up on you like a cheap-shotting Green Bay Packer."

McMichael, 63, first thought he had a neck or spine condition resulting from a career in the NFL lasting from 1980-94, followed by five years performing as a pro wrestler. He was diagnosed at Mayo Clinic and had it confirmed by Rush University Medical Center in Janaury. He said he was told it probably began to set in three years ago.

McMichael, beloved by Bears fans as "Mongo" or "Ming," estimated he had lost 50 to 60 pounds and is near 200 pounds. His right arm had gone limp and his left arm is affected, as well as his right leg.

An on-air analyst for years with ESPN, McMichael wanted to make his condition public because people were going to start to wonder why he hasn't been around.

McMichael played on the front four in the Super Bowl in 1985 alongside Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and William Perry.

McMichael can still get up and walk but not well. Wiederer described the situation as toddler-like.

Always known for his irreverence, McMichael is keeping a sense of humor even in the face of an incurable disease.

"I'm a Super Bowl Shuffler now," McMichael said in the story. "As long as I keep my legs stiff and shuffle along I won't go down."

McMichael is receiving care at home from his wife Misty and daughter Macy. He has been visited on a regular basis by former members of the team.  His good friend, Hampton, built a ramp from the laundry room to their grarage. The McCaskey family has committed to covering the cost of a fully equipped special wheelchair McMichael needs, a necessity McMichael estimated would cost more than a car.

McMichael will qualify for financial aid from the NFL under an assistance plan for former players with ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

However, the high medical costs are hitting them prior to any financial assistance arriving from the NFL and a Go Fund Me page was set up to help with the cost of McMichael's daily care.

They've also set up a web page to help through another fund raiser.

A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the former Texas Longhorn had 92 1/2 of his 95 career sacks with the Bears over 13 seasons. His final season came in 1994 with the Packers. His career started in 1980 with New England and he still owns the Bears record for most consecutive games played with 191.

READ: Steve McMichael's Battle with ALS

McMichael's 92 1/2 career sacks are second in team history to the 124 1/2 by Dent.

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