If you were around for the phenomenon that was the 1985 Chicago Bears, you'll remember this artifact from the early MTV era. From Grantland:
As the Super Bowl returns to New Orleans this week, arguments will again heat up about whether the 1986 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears are the best team in NFL history. But with personalities like Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, William "The Refrigerator" Perry, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, Steve "Mongo" McMichael, and Jim McMahon, it's hard to argue against them being the most character-laden team ever.
Their on-field highlights en route to a 15-1 season (the only loss a high-profile Monday-night drubbing in Miami, where members of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins watched from the sidelines) were impressive.
But for many fans, that season is summed up by a silly video featuring jinx-taunting boasts, amateur rapping, and the all-time best saxophone solo by a running back. "The Super Bowl Shuffle" was wide receiver Willie Gault's pet project, designed to showcase the players, raise money for charity, and jump-start a fledgling local record label.
But it became a juggernaut, earning a gold record, a platinum video, and a Grammy nomination. One measure of its popularity is that no one remembers that the previous Super Bowl champions released "We're the 49ers," their own funky fight song.
"When the 49ers did their song, people thought of it as kind of a joke," recalls Bay Area–bred Bears defensive back (and Shufflin' Crew backup dancer) Ken Taylor.
Although many also laughed at Steve Fuller's moves or William Perry's youthful bravado, the "Shuffle" was no joke. It became a cultural milestone that brought the NFL into the MTV era and helped change the status of athletes as celebrities. Its history is a story of football triumphs, personal tragedies, great and awful business decisions, an attorney general's investigation, a blackface minstrel backstory, and a lot of feathers ruffled.
This is the oral history of "The Super Bowl Shuffle."