Former Bears great Steve “Mongo” McMichael is battling ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — according to multiple reports this morning, including one from Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, who said McMichael is said to be “declining quickly.”
“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,” McMichael told the Tribune.
McMichael gained his initial acclaim in the 1980s as a five-time NFL All-Pro [two-time First-Team] defensive tackle with the vaunted Super Bowl XX-winning Chicago Bears defense. Following a 15-season NFL career, which included brief stints with the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, the University of Texas alum embarked on a memorable wrestling career, highlighted by a 1995 to 1999 run with World Championship Wrestling. He even defeated Jeff Jarrett for the WCW United States Championship at Clash of the Champions XXXV, and held the title for 25 days.
Jarrett Payton (Walter’s son) of the Chicago-based WGN TV reports that McMichael was initially diagnosed with ALS at the Mayo Clinic, and later obtained a second opinion from Rush Hospital.
“I’m not going to be out in the public any more,” McMichael said. “You’re not going to see me out doing appearances, hell, I can’t even sign my name anymore, and everybody’s going to be speculating, ‘Where’s McMichael, what’s wrong with him? 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.”
The former pass rusher, who accumulated 95 career sacks, has been utilizing, “a customized wheelchair provided to him by the Bears, and [he] has lost the use of his arms and hands,” according to WGN.
A GoFundMe has been launched with the goal of raising $100,000 by the immediate friends of Mongo’s family. The GoFundMe exceeded well over $20,000 in its first 15 hours online.
“This Go Fund Me has been established by their friends to help defray the mounting costs of Steve’s daily care and medical needs,” it reads, organized by a Chicago-based woman named Betsy Shepherd. “We know that Steve’s fans will want to help as he has inspired so many in his lifetime. He has raised millions of dollars for various charities and plans to use his notoriety to help raise money for families living with ALS. First, we must give Steve, Misty and their 13-year-old daughter, Macy, some immediate care, comfort and peace of mind. We are searching for a handicap-accessible home and have put a down payment on a handicap-accessible van.”
The GoFundMe also notes that www.TeamMongo76.com is another site that could be contacted for assistance. WGN additionally lists McMichael’s shirts on ObviousShirts.com, where 100-percent of the proceeds will be donated, according to the website.
Former Senior Vice President of WCW and recent WWE Hall of Fame inductee Eric Bischoff was among the many who expressed their support for Mongo on Twitter.
The entire video report from WGN is also available on YouTube.