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Thirty years later, '85 Bears as popular as ever

The 1985 Bears, subject of a new 30 for 30 film, have maintained their spot in popular imagination. Paul Natkin/Getty Images

CHICAGO -- Thirty years after vanquishing New England in Super Bowl XX, the 1985 world champion Chicago Bears are one of the most celebrated teams in NFL history.

Don’t expect that to change soon.

All but five members of the 1985 outfit returned to Chicago with great fanfare this week for their 30th anniversary celebration, which featured a private reunion event at Soldier Field on Tuesday, followed the next night by the premiere of ESPN’s 30 for 30 film "The '85 Bears."

Hall of Famers Mike Ditka and Mike Singletary, Steve McMichael, Gary Fencik and actor Vince Vaughn (executive producer of "The '85 Bears") were among the celebrities in attendance at Wednesday’s private screening.

“I just think the '85 Bears stand the test of time because of the people we had on that team,” Singletary said.

“It’s pretty amazing when you think about the characters we had. That’s pretty much what it came down to. We had Buddy Ryan, Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Steve McMichael, Dan Hampton. ... I mean all of those guys are enough for one team. But you had all those guys and all those personalities on one team. We just all found a way to come together and make something special.”

Although that group managed to win only one Super Bowl, the Bears qualified for the playoffs from 1984 to '88 and in 1990 and '91.

Since the Bears fired Ditka in 1992, the club has reached the postseason only five times. The current Bears have missed the playoffs five consecutive seasons and eight of the past nine seasons.

“This never gets old, baby,” McMichael said. “Some of the guys are like, ‘Well, this is 30 years, maybe we should stop carrying on after this one.’ I’m like, 'Hey, I’m ready for the 40- and 50-year celebrations.'

“We were entertainers, baby. You can play football, or you can play football and entertain the crowd. We did both.”