CHICAGO — Steve McMichael, the charismatic former Chicago Bears Super Bowl champion defensive lineman and ex-WCW professional wrestler, revealed in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that doctors diagnosed him with ALS three months ago.
“I promise you, this epitaph that I’m going to have on me now? This ain’t ever how I envisioned this was going to end,” McMichael told the newspaper.
McMichael, 63, now uses a specialized wheelchair — that Bears ownership volunteered to pay for — after the disease left him unable to use his arms and his legs significantly weakened.
“What I used to be is the antithesis of what I am now,” said McMichael, nicknamed “Mongo” in tribute to Alex Karras’ character in Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy, “Blazing Saddles.” “This is a humbling thing, brother.”
The five-time All-Pro was drafted in the third round by the New England Patriots in 1980 but became a legend in Chicago, where he started 191 consecutive games and starred on defense from 1981 to 1993. He is still second in franchise history with 92.5 sacks, and McMichael’s peers considered him one of the smartest defensive tackles ever to play the position.
McMichael spent his final NFL season (1994) with the hated Green Bay Packers but liked to tell people in retirement that the only reason he signed with the Bears’ bitter rival was to “steal their money and whup their ass again!”
McMichael has retained his trademark sense of humor.
“I thought I was ready for anything,” McMichael said of his ALS diagnosis. “But man, this will sneak up on you like a cheap-shotting Green Bay Packer.”