The Art of Sport with Hall of Famer Richard Dent — in the April Issue of Yankees Magazine
March 29, 2017 — Last September, at the Joe Namath March of Dimes Celebrity Golf Classic, I sat down with Chicago Bears legend Richard Dent to interview him for an Art of Sport piece in the April Issue of Yankees Magazine.
Our candid conversation took place at in a restaurant at the Long Island Marriott, shortly before a dinner for the golf tournament kicked off.
As our discussion got going, I began to learn a lot about Dent’s earlier years, and it was fascinating.
“If God gives you the ability to see it, you have to go do it,” Dent said when I asked him about trying out for his high school’s football team. “As a kid, I saw myself playing in the NFL and winning Super Bowls. I was originally in the band, and a good friend of mine knew that my dream was to play professional football, so we made a deal. If he went out for the football team, so would I. And that’s how I got started in football.”
Dent also spoke about what it was like to take with the field in his first training camp with the Bears as an eighth-round draft pick.
“Being on the field with Walter Payton, a person I had appreciated since I was much younger, was like feeling the earth move,” Dent said. “But when you put your hand down at the line of scrimmage, you’re reminded that you can play football and you feel like you’re at home. After I got past the nerves, I realized that I was beating up first-rounders and making a lot of progress, so I felt confident that I was going to make the team.”
Of course, much of our conversation after that revolved around Dent’s role on the famed 1985 Bears, a defensive-minded team that recorded a 15–1 regular season record and went on to win the Super Bowl.
“After we lost the 1984 NFC championship in San Francisco, we got on the plane and we said that we were going to come back and win everything hands down in ’85,” Dent said. “We made a commitment to do everything we needed to do to dominate in ’85. We were losing to Tampa Bay, 28–17, at the end of the first half in the first game. When we got into the locker room, a few of us said, “Do you remember what we talked about on the plane? Let’s turn this thing around.” I tipped pass a pass, and Leslie Frazier ran it in for a touchdown, and things just started clicking from there.”
Dent, who earned Super Bowl XX MVP honors in the Bears’ 46–10 victory over the New England Patriots, shared with me just how confident he and his teammates were going into the big game.
“It was about going out and finishing the job we had started in training camp,” Dent said. “The Patriots didn’t have anything. We knew it was our game. We were trying to finish them off by halftime, and we practically did that. But we really were hoping to play the Miami Dolphins, the only team that beat us in the regular season. We wanted Miami to show up.”
Following Dent’s comment about his team’s devastating loss to Miami, I asked him how he thought things would have turned out had the Dolphins advanced to the Super Bowl.
“We probably would have shut them out,” he said.
When I followed up with a question about the Dolphins 38-point performance that December, Dent provided a more thought-out answer.
“Well, they were the first team that basically spread our defense out and started connecting on quick passes,” the Pro Football Hall of Famer said. “When they beat us, [then Bears head coach] Mike Ditka was telling [then Bears defensive coordinator] Buddy Ryan not to blitz, but we kept blitzing anyway. That fight went on the whole game, but hopefully we would have figured things out the second-time around.”
To read the rest of this Q&A, grab a copy of the April Issue of Yankees Magazine.
The April edition will be on sale at Yankee Stadium and on newsstands throughout New York City and the surrounding areas, beginning on April 10.
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— Alfred Santasiere III