1985 Bears visit White House

October 7, 2011 (CHICAGO)

About 100 coaches, players, office personnel and their families made the trip to Washington Friday.

"This is as much fun as I will have a president of the United States, right here," said President Barack Obama.

Obama honored his hometown team with a tribute to the Super Bowl champs, the 1985 Bears, the best Bears team to grace the gridiron in the modern era. That team finally got its due.

The Super Bowl XX champions shuffled their way to the White House and it took a Bears fan to make it happen.

It was a day 25 years in the making, but the '85 Bears finally got their day on the South Lawn. President Obama called them the greatest team in NFL history.

"This team ruled the city," Obama said. "It riveted the country. They were everywhere. They were like The Beatles."

After winning Super Bowl XX, the team's trip to Washington was canceled because of the Challenger tragedy. The First Fan fixed that and recognized certain players like Jim McMahon and Coach Mike Ditka.

"When I was running for the Senate, some people were trying to draft Ditka to run against me," said Obama. "I will admit I was a little worried, 'cause he doesn't lose."

"Twenty-six years after the fact, and five administrations, but thank you," Ditka said to Obama.

The president also paid homage to those who couldn't attend, like the late Dave Duerson and Walter Payton.

"Chicago still loves 'Sweetness.' He was without question of the greatest to play the game," said Obama.

Hall of Famer Dan Hampton chose not to attend Friday's ceremony, something fellow defenseman, former Bears linebacker Otis Wilson could not understand.

"We all have choices we have to make in life," Wilson said. "I mean, this is an opportunity some people never get."

"To get to come to the White House and to meet the president, someone that me and Otis used to work out with many years ago, and to now get him to allow us to come here, it's a full circle," said Bears Hall of Famer Richard Dent.

Also not attending were Leslie Frasier and Mike Singletary. Both are members of the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff.

Wilbur Marshall was also not in attendance.

William "Refrigerator" Perry is battling health problems and could not attend.

But coach Buddy Ryan, who is battling cancer, missed surgery to attend the White House ceremony.

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