Former NFL DT Steve McMichael Says He's Been Diagnosed with ALS

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2021

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 30:  Steve McMichael #76 of the Chicago Bears removes his helmet during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 30, 1990 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chiefs won 21-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Former Chicago Bears defensive tackle and WCW wrestler Steve "Mongo" McMichael announced Friday that he has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The 63-year-old McMichael delivered the news in an interview with WGN's Jarrett Payton—the son of late Pro Football Hall of Famer and McMichael's former Bears teammate Walter Payton.

McMichael told Payton doctors at the Mayo Clinic diagnosed him with 36-month onset ALS in January.

The two-time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro explained why he decided to make his diagnosis public:

"I'm not going to be out in the public anymore ... you're not going to see me out doing appearances, hell I can't even sign my name anymore, and everybody's going to be speculating, 'Where's McMichael, what's wrong with him?' I'm here to tell everyone I've been diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, so I'm not going to be a public figure anymore."

Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune reported that McMichael now weighs less than he did in high school, can no longer raise his arms and has nearly lost the use of his legs as well. McMichael has been using a wheelchair given to him by the Bears.

ALS is a neuromuscular disease for which there is no known cure. New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig was famously diagnosed with the disease in 1939, forcing him to retire. He died two years later at the age of 37. Former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason announced his diagnosis with ALS in 2011 and has become an advocate for research of the disease and disability rights.

McMichael's NFL career spanned 15 years with the New England Patriots, Bears and Green Bay Packers. He spent 13 of those seasons in Chicago and enjoyed his greatest success as a member of the Bears.

He was selected by the Pats in the third round of the 1980 NFL draft out of the University of Texas, but was cut after just one season, and signed with the Bears.

That turned out to be a great career decision, as McMichael became a key part of the 1985 Bears defense, which guided the team to the first and only Super Bowl win in franchise history.

McMichael was named an All-Pro in both 1985 and 1987 and a Pro Bowler in 1986 and 1987.

McMichael posted double-digit sacks in a season three times and finished his career with 95 sacks in 213 regular-season games played. He also had 5.5 sacks in 14 playoff games, including a sack in Chicago's 46-10 decimation of New England in Super Bowl XX.

After his football career ended at the conclusion of the 1994 season, McMichael made the move to pro wrestling. He accompanied New York Giants legend Lawrence Taylor to the ring for his main event match against Bam Bam Bigelow at WWE's WrestleMania 11 in 1995.

McMichael became a color commentator for WCW later that same year and eventually transitioned into the ring as an active wrestler, competing until 1999.

Mongo held the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship once and was also a member of the legendary Four Horsemen stable in 1996 and 1997.