In 1986, shortly before the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears were prepared to make the annual champions' trip to the White House and meet President Ronald Reagan, the Challenger exploded. The Bears' White House visit was canceled and subsequently forgotten—until, that is October 2011, when rabid Bears fan Barack Obama invited the '85 squad over to the White House. Some members were dead; some were too hurt to show up; at least one hated Obama too much to accept his invite. But about 50 former players, coaches and executives did show. Many of them were older, fatter, poorer and nearly unrecognizable from their glory 26 years earlier.
Above, you'll see an AP photo of the '85 Bears outside the White House on Oct. 7, 2011. Click on the numbers below the photo, hit expand and you'll find annotations, all adapted from Rich Cohen's Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football. Click here to read an interview with Cohen and here to read another excerpt from the book.
Rich Cohen, a New York Times bestselling author, grew up on the North Shore of Chicago, where he died with the Cubs and was reborn with the Bears. He has written 10 books and a host of magazine articles for, among other things, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's Magazine, and Vanity Fair, where he's a contributing editor. Cohen has won the Great Lakes Book Award and the Chicago Public Library's 21st Century Award, and his essays have been included in The Best American Essays and The Best American Travel Writing. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and three sons, but is plotting his return to Chicagoland.