Perhaps Bear Defense Has Finally Lost Bite

How do the Chicago Bears compare to the Bear team that won Super Bowl XX after the 1985 season?

Cincinnati quarterback Boomer Esiason, quoted in Newsday after his Bengals lost, 17-14, last Sunday at Chicago: “That’s not the defense of ’85. There’s no Otis Wilson. Wilber Marshall and Mike Richardson are missing, plus some of their guys are getting a little older. The whole defensive line has had surgery on their legs. There’s a lot of things they don’t have that they did in ’85.”

Bear defensive tackle Dan Hampton begged to differ. “We had to fight and scratch and claw, but it was a good experience,” Hampton said. “The defense hung together. The ‘disappearing pass rush’ was back. We are still effective even though some of us are in our 30s. Steve (McMichael), Mike (Singletary) and myself have to play well every single week, but we feel this team can do something this year.”

Add Bengals: Against all odds, nose tackle Tim Krumrie was able to start against the Bears. Said Krumrie, whose left ankle was broken in two places during the first quarter of Super Bowl XXIII: “I felt clumsy at times, but I only had one week of practice. I didn’t have doubts, but it was a little scary at first.”

Add Bears: Coach Mike Ditka, after Tim McGee of the Bengals knocked him off his feet on a sideline play: “I’m sore. I can’t take it anymore, guys. In the old days, I ‘woulda moidered da bum.’ ”


Pained expression: San Diego Charger quarterback Jim McMahon, after being asked by a reporter, “Are you in pain?”

“Only when I look at you.”

Trivia time: The Rams edged the Minnesota Vikings, 407-406, for the National Football Conference scoring title last season. How did the Rams rank in the National Football League overall?

The Uncle Buccos: From Tim Kurkjian of the Baltimore Sun: “The Pittsburgh Pirates game in St. Louis was rained out after six innings Wednesday night and was made up the next day (before 1,519 fans) at Busch Stadium. Instead of checking back into the hotel Wednesday night, two Pirate coaches, Manager Jim Leyland and two trainers slept at the clubhouse.

“ ‘It was like Uncle Buck’s summer camp,’ ” Pirate coach Rich Donnelly said. “ ‘It was great. It was freezing. We slept on the floor. I slept about 12 minutes, it was great. Reveille was at 6 a.m., but Uncle Buck (Leyland) got me up at 5:58. He was vacuuming the place. He told me, ‘Make some coffee, and go check the field to see if it’s raining.’ There I was, in my pajamas, standing at second base at Busch Stadium at 6 in the morning.”

Potential for fumbles: A broadcaster’s worst nightmare occurs when Arizona quarterback George Malauulu drops back to pass behind the protection of tackle Nick Fineanganofo and throws to flanker Olatide Ogunfiditimi.

On this date: On Sept. 17, 1941, Stan Musial made his major league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals, going two for four in a victory over the Boston Braves.

A closed case: Despite sunny weather at game time, Toronto’s Skydome roof was closed Friday. Are the Blue Jays playing the percentages amid the American League East race? They beat Cleveland and improved to 7-0 in games when the roof is closed.

What’s in a name?Despite increasing the cost of their highest-priced ticket to $26 per game, the Pittsburgh Penguins--who played before 9,000 empty seats a game only five years ago--expect to sell out every home game in the 16,025-seat Civic Arena this season.

The Penguins averaged only 6,839 fans in 1983-84, the last season before all-star center Mario Lemieux joined the team. Last season, the Penguins sold out their final 34 games and failed to sell out the Civic Arena for only a few early season, mid-week home games.

Trivia answer: Third, behind the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals (448 points) and Houston Oilers (424).

Quotebook: Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog on Wednesday night’s small crowd at Busch Stadium: “It looked like a graveyard with lights.”