October 7th, 2011
06:13 PM ET
White House (CNN)– It's been a quarter of a century since their moment in the limelight, but Friday, the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears were finally honored at the White House.
The tragic explosion of the Shuttle Challenger occurred just days before the champion team was to meet with President Reagan in 1986. Fast forward 25 years and the Da Bear's number one fan, President Barack Obama welcomed his hometown team to be honored at the White House.
The president was almost gushing, "This is as much fun as I will have as president of the United States," he told an audience of Illinois natives and Bears fans on the South Lawn.
Chicago media have reported the 1985 team along with other former Bear's players and team staff numbering nearly one hundred, chartered a plane from Chicago to Washington.
Legendary coach Mike Ditka brought the president his own shirt emblazoned with "Obama 85".
The president confided to the audience he and Ditka could have had their roles reversed. "Some of you may remember that back in 2004 when I was running for the Senate some people were trying to draft Ditka to run against me," said Mr. Obama.
"I will admit I was a little worried because he doesn't lose."
Turning to Ditka, the president said smiling, "Coach, I am glad you didn't run because I have to say I probably would have been terrible on ESPN."
The 1985 Bears was a cultural phenomenon. Coach Ditka had a larger than life personality. The team even had their own rap song, "The Super Bowl Shuffle."
But some of the most famous team members were missing. The legendary Walter Payton who died more than 10 years ago from cancer was represented at the White House Friday by his wife. And William "Refrigerator" Perry was unable to attend due to health issues.
Star Quarterback Jim McMahon famous as much for his colorful antics as for his skill on the football field brought the president a sports headband to match his own which the president showed off, but declined to wear.
Coach Ditka thanked the president for today's honor, be it a bit delayed, "We're very proud that you honored us by bringing us here. It's only 26 years after the fact and 5 administrations, but thank you."
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