Legendary Chicago Bears defensive tackle Steve McMichael revealed in an interview with the Chicago Tribune published on Friday that he has been diagnosed with ALS and will be stepping out of the public eye.
McMichael, 63, told the newspaper he was diagnosed with the degenerative nervous system disease back in January. He can no longer raise his arms or hold things in his hands and he uses a wheelchair to get around while relying on his wife of 23 years, Misty, to help with his everyday needs.
“I promise you, this epitaph that I’m going to have on me now? This ain’t ever how I envisioned this was going to end,” the one-time Super Bowl champ said.
McMichael is remembered for his lively personality both on and off the field. Drafted in 1980 by the New England Patriots, McMichael was cut before his second season and eventually signed by the Bears as a free agent.
He would go on to become a five-time All-Pro, two-time Pro Bowler, and started in 191 consecutive games while playing in Chicago. McMichael ranks second all-time in franchise history with 92.5 sacks and was a key player in the Bears’ 1986 Super Bowl victory.
“What I used to be is the antithesis of what I am now,” he said. “This is a humbling thing, brother.”
“I want everybody to realize why they’re no longer going to see me around,” he added.
McMichael has been battling symptoms for some time but he was first presented with a possible ALS diagnosis back in September. He told the Tribune that a neurologist at UIC Medical Center believes his condition likely began setting in 36 months earlier.
“I know what it feels like to go in the weight room and do a set of three with 725 pounds on the squat rack,” McMichael said. “Now? When I get up and try to move? It feels like I’m doing 1,000 (expletive) pounds. And it’s just exhausting straining that hard.”
“That’s what my world is now.”