CHICAGO – If there’s anyone that knows what he’s made of on the field, it’s the player who would line up across to him in practice from 1985 to 1992.

That was the situation for Tom Thayer with the Bears during that era as the guard faced off with the team’s tough-nosed, veteran defensive tackle on a daily basis. What opponents dealt with on Sundays with Steve McMichael is what he got to see dozens of times during a season at Halas Hall.

“Steve taught me as much about football as any of the coaches or any of the other offensive lineman that I played with,” said Thayer.

It’s an experience that not only introduced the guard to what the NFL was all about but also gave him the knowledge of how valuable McMichael was to the success of the Bears’ teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Hence Thayer is one of his former teammates that’s behind a petition to get the former Bear into the Hall of Fame, which comes as McMichael is battling ALS, which he was diagnosed with in 2021. He is the first to say that it’s not because of the illness that more consideration should be given to the player who was a key part of the team’s 1985 Super Bowl championship.

“This is not a sympathy petition. This is a petition that Steve McMichael belongs in the Hall of Fame,” said Thayer. “If you would have asked people around the league 20 years ago, 30 years ago, or even yesterday, you have that recall of what Steve’s value was on a football team. “

Certainly, that was McMichael’s part in one of the best defenses in NFL history, where he created havoc on the line as part of the team’s famed “46” defense. In his 15-year career, 13 of which were spent in Chicago, McMichael had 95 sacks and 13 forced fumbles, was named an NFL first-team All-Pro twice, a second-team All-Pro two times, and was elected to a pair of Pro Bowls.

Yet Thayer believed there were other intangible contributions made by McMichael that makes him even more worthy of a Hall of Fame election.

“When you think about the Hall of Famers, that’s when you think about ‘What did they do above themselves to make their team, their organization, their city better?'” said Thayer. “There’s a long list of what Steve did as a man, as a football player, as a person for everybody on the team.”

That’s still happening, according to Thayer, even as McMichael deals with the setbacks that come with ALS.

“He’s inspiring because as difficult as it is, he’s always got an attitude of the same tough guy that we played football with,” said Thayer. “Since he found out about this was going to affect him the rest of his life, and that’s what you’ve really go to know about Steve.

“For me, I don’t know if I could handle it the way Steve is.”

No one would know better than the person that practiced across from him for nearly a decade.

You can see for sign the petition to get Steve McMichael in the Pro Football Hall of Fame here.