Why Chicago Bears legend Steve McMichael's hall of fame induction is validation, and the end of a journey

Steve McMichael has had the distinction of earning plenty of praise from Mike Ditka.

Ditka called McMichael one of the hardest working players and one of the toughest across his 13-year career for the Chicago Bears.

Those words of validation are now met by the biggest validation of all: McMichael's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Thursday night.

This induction was one of the things that McMichael, who is battling ALS, wanted most.

"When Steve was losing his ability to speak, I asked him what else I could do for him," Betsy Shepherd, McMichael’s publicist of 24 years, said in a press release. "He whispered to me, ‘Hall of Fame.’"

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Shepherd said she reached out to the media and others to try and boost McMichael's candidacy. Through stories of his reputation and play on the field, it worked.

Especially as stories of Mongo's reputation reminded the right people of the kind of player he was.

"You make it to pro football," McMichael told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 1986 prior to Super Bowl XX, "by being a man and kicking some a--."

McMichael's reputation as a pro football player began when he was playing at Texas. He collected rattlesnakes. When he got to Chicago, he was the kind of guy who played sleeveless in the dead of winter in Chicago.

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What resulted was a durability that's rarely seen in NFL history. In his 15-year career, McMichael never missed a game because of injury. He played in a Chicago Bears team-record 191 straight games. 

He backed up that durability with the stats on paper.

"His stats are better than some who are already in the Hall of Fame," Shepherd said. "He has given so much to his fans and charities, we had to make this happen for him. The Hall of Fame told us they were flooded with letters and the sportswriters, especially Dan Pompei, pushed this over the goal line for Steve."

Mongo ranks second in Bears history with 92.5 sacks. His 95.0 career sacks rank fourth in NFL history by a defensive tackle.

He was a two-time first-team All-Pro, a three-time second-team All-Pro and a two-time Pro Bowler in his 15-year NFL career.

Now, that career is forever immortalized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His bust forever resides among the best to ever play.

"We all believe this is long overdue," Shepherd said. 

Along with McMichael, former Bears legends Devin Hester and Julius Peppers were also inducted into the Hall of Fame on Thursday night.