Ranking every Bear in the Super Bowl Shuffle

From LA to Samurai Mike, here's a definitive list of performances in the greatest sports anthem of all time.

Ranking every Bear in the Super Bowl Shuffle

I didn't come here to start no trouble.

OK, maybe I did.

It's Super Bowl week and the Chicago Bears are sitting at home again. But I still need some Chicago-specific content, which means I'm going back to the same well of orange-and-blue kool-aid we've been drinking from for more than three decades.

The Super Bowl Shuffle video was recorded at the Park West 35 years ago last December (the day after the Monday night loss to Miami, actually).  The song hit its zenith a month later when the Bears triumphed over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

It's since turned into an '80s pop culture touchstone as well as a nagging reminder  it's been way too long since the Bears last won a Super Bowl.

A total of 25 people — two dozen Bears, one referee — participated in the video, which means it's prime material for a worst-to-first Internet listicle.

Cue up the bass line and your turntables, it's time to rank the Shuffle.

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25. Mike Richardson

"I'm L.A. Mike, and I play it cool
They don't sneak by me cause I'm no fool"

“L.A. Mike” has three strikes against him.

  1. He only got a starring part because Dan Hampton and Steve McMichael were too superstitious to do the Shuffle before the end of the season.
  2. He’s also the cast member most likely to cause younger fans to say “I’ve never heard of him” when he appears on the screen.
  3. Richardson was recently arrested in Phoenix on suspicion of murder, which, let's face it, isn't going to rocket anyone to the top of any lists, let alone a list about the greatest athlete-musicians of all time.

Solid dancer, though.

24. Dan Rains
23. Thomas Sanders
22. Ken Taylor

These three look like the producers were a few guys short so they sent a page out to the line at Demon Dogs and got this trio to head over. Not a lot of energy, even worse moves. They look like they're mad they've been parked on a riser in the back.

There's no 'I' in the Shuffle, fellas.

21. Shaun Gayle

Shaun Gayle Super Bowl Shuffle

No Shaun, we don't have any idea what Dan Rains is doing either.

20. Keith Ortego

How many bar bets do you think Ortego has won in his lifetime after telling people he was in the Super Bowl Shuffle and them not believing him? The wide receiver didn’t catch a single pass in 1985 but served as a punt returner and touched the ball twice in the Super Bowl for 20 yards.  He also got to wear Mike Ditka's number while doing it. People have had worse three-year NFL careers.

19. Mike Tomczak (guitar)

The pride of TF North and third-string quarterback is low-key my favorite person in the shuffle, just because he really gets into playing that guitar.

Tomczak also plays like the guitar is trying to get away from him (which it well could have been).

18. Calvin Thomas (sax)

Calvin Thomas saxophone

A+ for effort, A+ for the look ... F for holding the saxophone wrong.

I mean, they couldn't find one blues musician hanging around the city to show Thomas how to reverse his hands? (Yes, I used to play the sax, why do you ask?)

17. Leslie Frazier

Leslie Frazier Super Bowl Shuffle

Frazier is only one of three future NFL head coaches to record a gold record. The others are Mike Singletary (for the Shuffle) and Rich Kotite, who joined a popular thrash-metal band after coaching the Jets.*

*May not actually be true

16.  Jim Morrissey

Jim Morrissey Super Bowl Shuffle

As the legend goes, Morrissey was a rookie living with his grandparents and looking for an excuse to get out of the house on a Tuesday offday. He asked Willie Gault on the flight down to Miami if he could be in the video and the rest is Awkward White Guy dancing history.

15. Tyrone Keys (keyboards)

Tyrone Keys keyboard

Tyrone Keys will be my stage name if I ever get around to learning piano.

14. Gary Fencik

Gary Fencik Super Bowl Shuffle

"Buddy's guys cover it down to the bone
That's why they call us the 46 zone"

The future Adams Street Partners executive squeezed a starring role in the Shuffle before heading out on a date in Lincoln Park with the woman who'd end up becoming his wife. Fencik's performance has always been a little too businesslike for my tastes, but you can't argue with the results — or that head of hair.

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13. Julia Kalish

Julia Kalash referee Super Bowl Shuffle

Don't even think of saying <tweet!> around this official.

12. Dennis Gentry

Dennis Gentry Super Bowl Shuffle

Bass players in general don't get enough credit, nor does Gentry for being a near-unstoppable returner for the Bears in the first Tecmo Bowl.

11. Willie Gault

Willie Gault Super Bowl Shuffle

"Now I'm as smooth as a chocolate swirl
I dance a little funky, so watch me girl"

Gault was the driving force behind convincing the other Bears to do the Shuffle and it's clear the Hollywood hopeful is  taking the entire day way more seriously than the rest of his teammates. In retrospect, it's amazing that only one wide receiver has a singing part in the Shuffle. Stage time is the sort of thing that would tear a receivers room apart in the year 2021.

10. Walter Payton

Walter Payton Super Bowl Shuffle

"Well, they call me Sweetness
And I like to dance
Runnin' the ball is like makin' romance"

Could I have listed Walter Payton No. 1? Of course. His decision to be in the Shuffle legitimized the whole effort and made it complete.

But picking #34 is a little like naming Homer your favorite Simpson or "Stairway" your favorite Led Zeppelin song.

Plus, let's be honest, his decision to not show the day after the Miami loss — opting instead for the green screen a few days later — robbed us from seeing him dancing with everyone else.

9. Jim McMahon

Jim McMahon Super Bowl Shuffle

"I motivate the cats, I like to tease
I play so cool, I aim to please"

See Payton, Walter.

8. Reggie Phillips (percussion)

Reggie Phillips Super Bowl Shuffle

The rhythm and focus that Phillips shows in spite of Tomczak flailing about with that guitar is just remarkable. He was clearly getting his hands in shape for his pick-six in the Superdome a few months later.

7. Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller Super Bowl Shuffle

"They say Jimbo is our man
If Jimmy can't do it, I sure can"

South Carolina, represent! Fuller's performance has always been a divisive topic among Bears fans. Either you enjoy his eager Barney Fife turn in front of the mike or you stick him near the back of the list. I'm in the first camp, mostly because I really enjoy the way he sells bringing on the Falcons, who were 4-12 that year.

6. Stefan Humphries (drums)

Stefan Humphries Super Bowl Shuffle

There's a case to be made for Stefan Humphries being the coolest Bear ever. Not only is he the only member of the '85 team to appear in both the Shuffle AND on the Black-n-Blues Brothers poster, he went on to become a doctor after his playing days were over. Plus, he really looks convincing on that drum kit.

5.  Otis Wilson

Otis Wilson Super Bowl Shuffle

"I'm mama's boy Otis, one of a kind
The ladies all love me
For my body and my mind"

Would the Shuffle be the same without Wilson's smile?  Mama's Boy delivers his lines with a grin that suggests he knows he's the man in any room he enters.

4. Richard Dent

"The sackman's comin', I'm your man Dent
If the quarterback's slow
He's gonna get bent"

One of the best things I learned from Grantland's excellent oral history of the Shuffle was that Dent was reticent about the song upon arriving on set.

But Dent said he loosened up after a few drinks and, wow, did it ever make me start to see his performance behind Steve Fuller  in a different light.

That's a man no longer worried about losing to the Dolphins the night before.

3. Maury Buford (cowbell)

Maury Buford Super Bowl Shuffle

Eat your heart out, Gene Frenkle. A hat, glasses, Buford jersey and cowbell probably still wins nine out of every 10 Halloween costume contests in Chicago.

Party game: Try and find a moment in the video when Buford actually strikes the cowbell at the same time as the music.  

2. Mike Singletary

Mike Singletary Super Bowl Shuffle

"I'm Samurai Mike, I stop 'em cold
Part of the defense, big and bold"

Singletary was the only Bear who needed just one take to film his spot. I have nothing funny to say about this. Mike Singletary just rules.

1. William Perry

"You're lookin' at the Fridge
I'm the rookie
I may be large, but I'm no dumb cookie"

Was there athlete bigger than Perry in 1985? He starred in commercials, had his own GI Joe figure and would end up starring at Wrestlemania 2 the following year.

Perry anchored the Shuffle like he did the Bears' defensive line that year. His performance is far from perfect — he frankly looked more comfortable running the ball — but it's a great encapsulation of how weird and wonderful that year was.

What would your top five look like? Let me know in the comments below!