Chicago Bears Traditions

History by Decades

Highlights from the 1980s

Armstrong's tenure ended in 1982 and he was replaced by Dallas Cowboys' assistant Mike Ditka, a Bears tight end from 1961-66. In 1983, Jim Finks resigned and George Halas died at age 88. Michael McCaskey, the oldest son of Ed and Virginia McCaskey, and the grandson of George Halas, became the third president in club history. McCaskey was a business school professor and operated a consulting company in Boston before joining the Bears. In his 14 full seasons with the club the Bears have posted nine winning seasons, made three trips to the NFC title game and won Super Bowl XX.

McCaskey has served stints on the Finance, Long Range Planning, Stadium, and NFL Properties Executive committees during his tenure. The Bears returned to the NFL elite in 1984. They advanced to the NFC Championship game (losing to San Francisco) and Walter Payton broke Jim Brown's all-time NFL rushing record. The loss in the '84 title game set the stage for the 1985 season in which the Bears posted shutouts in the both playoff games before ripping the Patriots, 46-10, in Super Bowl XX. The Bears won the NFC Central division each of the next three seasons, but could never get past the NFC title game. Payton's jersey was retired following the '87 season.


Payton gains 133 rushing and 14 receiving to raise lifetime combined yardage to 9,492-breaking Sayers' club record. Bears beat Tampa 23-0 at Soldier Field.


David Williams takes Thanksgiving Day overtime kickoff at Detroit 95 yards for TD in fastest OT in NFL history (21 seconds).


Bears whip Packers 61-7 at Soldier Field, equaling club record for points and setting records for first downs (33) and completion percentage (83.3%, 20 of 24). Vince Evans throws for 316-most by a Bear in 10 years.


After four seasons and a 30-35 record, Neill Armstrong departs as head coach.


Mike Ditka, assistant offensive coach of the Dallas Cowboys, becomes head coach.


Jim Finks resigns as General Manager after nine seasons. George Halas names Jerry Vainisi as the club's General Manager.


Bears' founder and owner, George Halas, dies at the age of 88.


Michael B. McCaskey becomes the third president in franchise history.


Rudy Custer, business manager for 38 years, announces his retirement.


Walter Payton breaks Jim Brown's rushing record with a third quarter six-yard run against New Orleans at Soldier Field. He finishes the day with 32 carries for 154 yards.


Bears defeat Vikings 34-3 at Minneapolis to clinch franchises' first Central Division crown.


Visiting Bears beat Redskins 23-19 for first playoff win since 1963, advancing to team's first NFC Championship before losing 23-0 to eventual champion 49ers.


Bears win first 12 games of season en route to posting 15-1 regular season mark, tying the most regular season wins by a team in NFL history. Chicago claims second straight NFC Central title as club record nine players are selected to Pro Bowl.


Bears host first playoff game since 1963 and shutout New York Giants, 21-0.


Bears blank Los Angeles Rams, 24-0, in NFC Championship game at Soldier Field and advance to Super Bowl XX.


The Chicago Bears return to dominance as the shuffle over the NFC on their way to a 46-10 Super Bowl XX victory over the New England Patriots. Bears win first 12 games of season en route to posting 15-1 regular season mark, tying the most regular season wins by a team in NFL history. Chicago claims second straight NFC Central title as club record nine players are selected to Pro Bowl. The Bears set seven Super Bowl records, including most points (46) and largest margin of victory (36). The game was witnessed by record-setting number of viewers via television worldwide. The next day team was greeted by an estimated 500,000 people in a ticket tape parade in downtown Chicago.


Bears capture third straight NFC Central title with 14-2 mark; defense allows NFL record-low 187 points. Bears lose divisional playoff game to Redskins, 27-13.


Walter Payton plays final regular season game at Soldier Field (rushes for 79 yards and 2 TDs). "Walter Payton Day" is celebrated prior to game as club president Michael McCaskey retires jersey number 34.


Bears win fourth consecutive division title with 11-4 mark in strike interrupted season. Team posts four straight winning seasons, a feat last accomplished by Bears between 1946-51. Redskins come back from 14-0 deficit to beat Bears 21-17 in playoffs.


Bears post 12-4 record (tied for best in NFL) and advance to NFC Championship game before losing to eventual Super Bowl Champion San Francisco. Bears finish five-year period (1984-88) with 62 wins-most by any NFL team ever in such a span.


Kevin Butler connects on his 24th straight field goal to set a NFL record for consecutive field goals made.


Richard Dent sacks Joe Montana and becomes the Bears' all-time sack leader with 82, surpassing Jim Osborne.