Carolina Panthers: Connections to the ’85 Bears


The Carolina Panthers seem to keep running into ties that bind them to the 1985 Chicago Bears.

The Carolina Panthers are 14-0 thus far in the 2015 season. Yet this season continues to have call backs to a time before the Carolina Panthers were even a thing. The team keeps drawing connection to the 1985 Bears in little ways and bigger ones.

Of course the 1985 Bears would not have had the last two weeks that the Panthers did. The Panthers let Drew Brees and Eli Manning create competitive games out of contests that should not have been. They have to be careful not to let Matt Ryan and Julio Jones do something similar in the upcoming week.

The latest connection between the 1985 Bears and the 2015 Panthers occurred when Bears defensive end and Super Bowl XX MVP Richard Dent came out and said that he would try to stop Cam Newton’s celebrations by legally trying to injure him. That he would try to level the hit to take him out of the game to prevent the showboating and the disrespect.

That may seem strange coming from Dent, who once was part of the Super Bowl Shuffle which was created before the 85 Bears even reached the big game. However Dent is not against showboating in general, he is just against YOU showboating. Which means that his attitude towards it is exact same as Newton’s. If nobody can stop you, then nobody can stop the celebrations.

Dent does not appear to have been asked how he felt about Newton as a player, only how he would stop Newton’s celebrations and such. The league is full of celebrations now including pass rushers celebrating sacks with wrestling moves. I’m sure if someone asked J.J. Watt whether or not such celebrations were out of line, Watt would answer ‘don’t get sacked’ or something like that.

Outside of going to Dent for commentary there are other connections to the 1985 Bears, which is now in its thirtieth anniversary just as the Panthers are in their twentieth year of playing football. Coach Ron Rivera was on that Bears team with Dent, and I suspect that Rivera has that Bears team as something of a model to emulate. Sean McDermott was brought in to be an attacking style defensive coordinator, just as the Bears 46 defense was an attacking style defense.

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Jonathan Stewart, the Panthers running back, claims Bears running back Walter Payton has his model for playing the position.

On offense the Panthers use Ted Ginn to burn defenses not unlike the Bears would do with Willie Gault.
On defense, Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis perform much the same functions as Mike Singletary and Wilbur Marshall did and also at a high level.

On the line, Kawann Short has a pass rushing presence not dissimilar to William Perry.

Next: Carolina Panthers All Time Team

Obviously there are differences. The 85 Bears would have loved to have Newton and tight end Greg Olsen. The 2015 Panthers would love to have Dent, Payton, Dan Hampton, and a Super Bowl ring. Still, the parallels are there and not as accidental as it might seem.

Hopefully Dent will at least pull for his old teammate Rivera if the Panthers do reach the big game.