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.
The wife of Steve McMichael can see that, even as ALS has taken so much from him.
“He flirts with me, he does with his eyebrows,” said Misty McMichael from the couple’s residence in Homer Glen. “He can be mad, too. Sometimes we’ll give him too much drugs and he’ll give us the ‘bulldog’ to let us know he’s had too much.
“He’s still got a lot of personality in there.”
McMichael tries to show that off as much as he can these days, which is difficult due to because of what ALS has taken away from him. The former Bears’ defensive tackle, who played 13 of his 15 NFL seasons in Chicago, can no longer talk or move on his own.
He requires around-the-clock care from a live-in nurse, with Misty gathering the medical supplies and medication on a daily basis, with frequent trips required to pick them up.
“It’s very difficult. It’s mentally draining,” said Misty McMichael of seeing Steve deal with the debilitating effects of ALS. “It breaks my heart to see him like this every day.”
Yet 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 put McMichael among the elite in the history of the game.
Thanks to his exploits on the field, McMichael was named one of 31 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame by the senior’s committee. They vote on players who’ve yet to be enshrined 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 move on to the next round of voting. After that, they’ll be a meeting on August 22 where three seniors can be selected to be considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024.
“It means everything to us,” said Misty of Steve’s selection as a semifinalist. “Everybody knows, especially in the NFL world, that he deserves it, that his stats have always been there.”
McMichael found out about the honor by watching a report from Jarrett Payton on WGN Evening News on July 12. The couple’s live-in nurse capture the video of the former defensive tackle as he learned that he’d taken a major step toward enshrinement.
“He had the biggest smile,” said Misty. “He had dimples. You don’t know until he smiles. But he’s been smiling so big, he had dimples all the time now. He’s just excited. We’re all super excited.”
McMichael took the field for 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 aided 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’re just waiting and hoping that this is finally our time. I feel like it is,” said McMichael of Steve’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame. “I really feel like they wouldn’t build us up this hard. So many times he’s been nominated but I really feel like this one’s a little different.
“I’m hoping that next August, I’ll read a speech for your guys.”
Misty is not alone in that hope – for many others share in that hope that Steve will be enshrined in the Class of 2024.
They are among the many teammates who have visited Steve at his Homer Glen residence since he announced his diagnosis with ALS. This past week, former kicker Kevin Butler, offensive lineman Keith Van Horne, and defensive back Doug Plank were among those former players to stop by the home.
“It’s been wonderful to see everyone love him so much because I’ve always loved him for 25 years,” said McMichael when asked about the visits of Steve’s former teammates. “Everybody that knows him loves him because he’s a great guy. He deserves it.”
Those whom he competed in professional wrestling with 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 another going on this September. Bridges’ Scoreboard in Griffith will be holding a fundraiser for McMichael on September 8th.
It’s their support that has kept the natives of Texas in Chicago as Steve continues the biggest battle 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,” said McMichael. “That’s why we stay here, because of the fans, they’re amazing.”
They along with his former teammates give McMichael a reason to smile and show charisma in any way he can.
Steve hopes to have some news to celebrate in the near future from Canton as well.
WGN News Now’s Larry Hawley has more from Misty McMichael on an update on Steve’s condition, the support of former teammates, and hopes for the former Bears’ defensive tackle’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the video above.