Former longtime Chicago Bears defensive lineman Steve "Mongo" McMichael has announced his diagnosis with 36-month onset ALS.
With this tragic reveal, McMichael also announced his withdrawal from the public eye.
“I’m not going to be out in the public any more…you’re not going to see me out doing appearances, hell I can’t even sign my name any more, and everybody’s going to be speculating ‘Where’s McMichael, what’s wrong with him?” McMichael said in an interview with WGN Chicago's Jarrett Payton (son of Walter Payton). “I’m here to tell everyone I’ve been diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, so I’m not going to be a public figure any more.”
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord -- resulting in the slow loss of muscle function.
McMichael, 63, was first diagnosed with the disease at the Mayo Clinic back in January.
After a consensus All-American season in 1979 and a College Football Hall of Fame career at Texas, the star defensive lineman was selected by the New England Patriots with a third-round pick in the 1980 NFL Draft. Cut after his rookie season, McMichael was picked up by the Bears the following year where he spent the next 13 seasons of his career. In 1985, he earned his first NFL All-Pro selection behind 44 tackles and eight sacks through Chicago's Super Bowl-winning season. In addition to his two Pro Bowl selections, he notched another All-Pro honor in 1987.
In his post playing career, McMichael spent time as a professional wrestler, commentator and briefly as an arena football coach.
Our best wishes to Mongo and his family as he battles this terrible disease.