HOMER GLEN, Ill. – As he continues to battle a debilitating disease that has already taken so much from him, “Mongo” still hasn’t lost what made him such a favorite in Chicago.
Steve McMichael’s wife can see that, even though ALS has taken so much from him.
“He flirts with me, he does with his eyebrows,” said Misty McMichael from the couple’s home in Homer Glen. “He can also be angry. Sometimes we give him too much drugs and he’ll give us the ‘bulldog’ to tell us he’s had too much.
“He still has a lot of personality in there.”
McMichael tries to show it as much as he can these days, which is difficult because of what ALS has taken from him. The former Bears defensive tackle, who played 13 of his 15 NFL seasons in Chicago, can no longer speak or move on his own.
He requires around-the-clock care from a nurse, with Misty collecting medical supplies and medications daily, with frequent trips required to retrieve them.
“It’s very hard. It’s mentally draining,” Misty McMichael said of watching Steve deal with the debilitating effects of ALS. “It breaks my heart to see him like this every day.”
Still, hope comes from a number of places for the couple as they are now two years and seven months into this battle with ALS. One of those came in early January, one that could place McMichael among the elite in the game’s history.
Thanks to his accomplishments on the field, McMichael was named one of 31 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame by the senior committee. They vote for players who have not yet been drafted and whose playing careers ended no later than 1988.
That committee will now meet on July 27 to vote on the 12 players from that category who will advance to the next round of voting. After that, they will be an Aug. 22 meeting where three seniors could be selected for consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024.
“It means everything to us,” Misty said of Steve’s selection as a semifinalist. “Everybody knows, especially in the NFL world, he deserves it, his stats have always been there.”
McMichael found out about the honor by watching a report from Jarrett Payton on the WGN Evening News on July 12. The couple’s live-in nurse captured the video of the former defensive tackle when he realized he had taken a big step toward enshrination.
“He had the biggest smile,” Misty said. “He had dimples. You don’t know it until he smiles. But he’s been smiling so big he’s got dimples all the time now. He’s just excited. We’re all super excited.”
McMichael took the field in 213 NFL games, 191 of which came with the Bears, making two Pro Bowls, two NFL All-Pro first teams (1985,1987) and three NFL All-Pro second teams (1986, 1988, 1991). He helped seven Bears’ playoff runs that included three NFC Championship Game appearances and a Super Bowl XX title.
During his career, McMichael had 95 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, 17 fumble recoveries and three safeties. He also had 5 1/2 sacks in 12 playoff games during his tenure with the Bears.
“We just wait and hope that it is finally our time. I feel like it is,” McMichael said of Steve’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame. “I really feel like they wouldn’t build us up that hard. So many times he’s been nominated, but I really feel like this one is a little bit different.
“I hope to read a speech to you guys next August.”
Misty is not alone in that hope – because many others share the hope that Steve will be enrolled in the class of 2024.
A number of teammates have spoken publicly about why McMichael should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and offensive lineman Tom Thayer.
They are among the many teammates who have visited Steve at his Homer Glen residence since he announced his diagnosis with ALS. In the past week, former kicker Kevin Butler, offensive lineman Keith Van Horne and defensive end Doug Plank were among the former players who stopped by the home.
“It’s been wonderful to see everyone love him so much because I’ve always loved him for 25 years,” McMichael said when asked about the visits by Steve’s former teammates. “Everyone who knows him loves him because he’s a great guy. He deserves it.”
Those with whom he competed in professional wrestling have also shown their support, including the “Money For Mongo” fundraiser in September 2022.
Of course, the fans in Chicago have also sent their support through their participation in these events, and there is a second time in September. Bridges’ Scoreboard in Griffith is holding a fundraiser for McMichael on September 8.
It’s their support that has kept the Texas native in Chicago as Steve continues the biggest fight of his life.
“We feel like we’re from here. Like we feel like we’re born and raised here in Chicago because of the fans,” McMichael said. “That’s why we stay here because of the fans, they’re great.”
They, along with his former teammates, give McMichael a reason to smile and show charisma in any way he can.
Steve also hopes to have some news to celebrate in the near future from Canton.
WGN News Now’s Larry Hawley has more from Misty McMichael on an update on Steve’s condition, the support of former teammates and hope for the former Bears’ defensive tackle to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the video above.