FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 25th, 2018
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO TO CHRONICLE THE CAREER OF THE MAN WHO WOULD BE THE SUCCESSOR TO ‘SWEETNESS’ ON THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF “BEARS CLASSICS” (PREMIERES WED, JAN. 31 AT 7PM CT)
‘Bears Classics’ presented by Xfinity to debut Wednesday, January 31 at 7:00 PM CT — Exclusively on NBC Sports Chicago
Narrated by NBC Sports Chicago’s Chuck Garfien
NBC Sports Chicago live stream available 24/7 on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app
Chicago, IL (January 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Chicago and the Chicago Bears will debut a brand new installment of its partnered Bears Classics presented by Xfinity Emmy award-winning documentary series when the network chronicles the career of former Bears running back Neal Anderson, the man who had the unenviable task of playing alongside, and eventually replacing, the legendary Walter Payton.
Debuting Wednesday, January 31 at 7:00 PM CT exclusively on NBC Sports Chicago (live stream of this program also available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app), Bears Classics will profile Anderson’s journey that began at Graceville, Florida, where his outstanding preps talents landed him a scholarship to the University of Florida, where he was a standout two-time AP honorable mention All-American (1984, 1985) and first-team All-SEC (1985). When it came time for the 1986 NFL Draft, the Bears chose Anderson in the first round (27th pick overall) with the goal of having him learn and develop alongside Payton, which quickly led to public perception that he was being groomed to replace the irreplaceable Bears Hall of Famer.
With the mounting mass pressure associated with his entry to the NFL, Anderson’s tireless work ethic made believers out of both teammates and fans as his stellar eight-year pro career (all with the Bears) earned him four-straight Pro Bowl appearances (1988-91), along with being named NFL second-team All-Pro for the 1990 season. In his career, Anderson started in 91 of 116 games where he rushed for over 6,100 yards, posted over 2,700 receiving yards, along with scoring a career total of 71 touchdowns.
This hour-long edition of NBC Sports Chicago’s Emmy-winning Bears Classics documentary series, subtitled The Neal Anderson Story, is narrated by Chuck Garfien. In addition to the extensive one-on-one interview session with Anderson, additional commentary will be provided by “Pro Football Weekly” founder and veteran NFL expert Hub Arkush.
Please note the following Neal Anderson quotes from NBC Sports Chicago’s premiere airing of Bears Classics: The Neal Anderson Story, debuting Wednesday, January 31 at 7:00 PM CT:
On being selected as the Bears first round pick in the 1986 NFL Draft: “To get drafted by the Bears, to get that call from Mike Ditka…it was great, that was the reality of what I thought was going to happen. That I was going to be professional football player. Then, reality set in and you’re drafted by the team that won the Super Bowl. At the time there was the ‘Super Bowl Shuffle,’ so you figure I’m going to be dancing in Chicago, even though I can’t dance. You see the colorful characters they had that year with Jim McMahon and William Perry and Walter Payton, Mike Singletary, the larger than life characters. Richard Dent, Super Bowl MVP. To think I’m going there to join them was amazing.”
On first impressions from fellow Bears teammates: “When I first got to Chicago, my first day coming in, I get on the training table to get my ankles taped. There was a small altercation because I think the rookies were supposed to come in real early and get theirs done. I was a holdout for a while so I didn’t realize that and I got there and the first day, Steve McMichael comes up while I was on the table and he had a few choice words to say…it got a little bit ugly, but it worked out, it worked out really good. I don’t know how he remembers it, but I think he realized at the time that this guy is not just going to accept anything. To me it was all about respect. I’m going to respect you and you’re going to respect me, but it got off to a rocky start.”
On his relationship with teammate Walter Payton: “I came in to play…to play the Halfback position. That’s what I was drafted for. I wanted to not to be given anything, but to compete for that job with whoever. Me and Walter didn’t always have the greatest relationship, I think most people know that and this is the first time I’ve said anything about it. It was a little rocky, but I understand because he was a competitor and that’s how he got that good. He wanted that job and I wanted that job and there’s only one job. So that made it kind of tough.”
On his relationship with head coach Mike Ditka: “Most people thought that we really hated each other. Again, I can’t speak for him, but I don’t think we did. I think we were a little bit similar. He was an old school coach. He coached a little bit through fear and intimidation. That didn’t work for me. That absolutely doesn’t work. I will respect you, but I’m not going to be afraid of you. I think that’s how he grew up and that’s the way he was coached. When we had time, it could be a month or whatever, we wouldn’t speak to each other. I’d tell Johnny Roland the running back coach to tell him this, then he’d tell Johnny Roland to tell me that. Like grade school kids, you tell him to tell him that. It wasn’t always the best, but I always had huge respect for him because you’d listen to a lot of the stuff he says, I would have done this and you look back at the film, and that’s what he would have done.”
On learning the news about the passing of Walter Payton: “We kind of knew or suspected that it was coming soon because everybody knew what was going on and the odds didn’t look good that he would be around too much longer. That kind of helped somewhat that you were braced and ready for it. My heart went out to his kids. I got to know his kids a little bit and his wife also. To take a father being gone, that young, I just knew that had to be really, really tough on them. At that time, I talked to Jarrett a little bit, to let him know if he needed anything or if there was anything I could do, that I would be there. That was the hard part for me, because I had my father still there, to realize that a father being taken away that young, that’s tough.”
NBC Sports Chicago will also re-air this episode of Bears Classics on Friday, February 2 at 9:00 PM and Saturday, February 3 at 5:30 PM. In addition, fans can also get interactive prior and during every airing of Bears Classics with their thoughts, memories and comments by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #BearsClassics. Plus, NBCSportsChicago.com will provide additional, online exclusive interviews and commentary write-ups from NBC Sports Chicago’s team of Bears experts.
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