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Hall of Fame announcement gives Bears legend Steve McMichael hope during ALS battle

Hall of Fame announcement gives Bears legend Steve McMichael hope during ALS battle
Hall of Fame announcement gives Bears legend Steve McMichael hope during ALS battle 02:10

CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Steve McMichael was named one of three "senior" finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024.

McMichael's family said the star player, who has been fighting ALS, has something to live for.

CBS 2's Marissa Perlman spoke to McMichael's biggest fan, his wife Misty, about the achievement.

McMichael, known to many as "Mongo," is a Super Bowl XX champion who has been battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. He is paralyzed from the neck down and cannot speak, eat, or breathe on his own.

His family said the announcement has given him hope.

"Because of the Hall of Fame is why he's still alive," Misty McMichael said, adding, "He's gonna get in, and then he can die in peace."

In their Homer Glen home, Misty McMichael told her husband she got "the call" that Mongo is one of three senior finalists, the category for players who finished their NFL careers no later than 1998.

Linebacker Randy Gradishar and wide receiver Art Powell were also selected to move onto the final step.

McMichael played 13 seasons with the Bears, helped the team win six division championships, and led the 1985 squad to the Super Bowl XX title.

AP Poll-Sports Prayer
FILE - Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka is carried off the field by Steve McMichael, left, and William Perry after the team won Super Bowl XX against the New England Patriots in New Orleans on Jan. 26, 1986. A poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted Sept. 9-12, 2022, finds that about 3 in 10 Americans say they feel God plays a role in determining which team goes home the victor. Phil Sandlin / AP

Earlier this month, McMichael was in the ICU and unconscious with sepsis. He later received a diagnosis of pneumonia.

He's since returned home and faces another round of antibiotics.

The final vote will take place in January before the next Super Bowl. If McMichael makes it to the Hall of Fame, his wife said she will do anything to physically get him to Canton, Ohio, including chartering a medical airplane and wheeling her husband on stage.

"It'll be the first time a gold jacket gets cut up the back, so somebody can put it on," she said, adding "It's not a burden when you love somebody, but you just want to do everything you can for them and I think this is the best thing I can do for him."

Misty said the potential of seeing himself enshrined in the Hall of Fame has given the family another mission, something else besides ALS to hold onto.

"It's given us life and another year with him and I can't ask for more than that," she said. "I want the most time we have with him and this is going to make sure we have more time."

Each of the senior finalists will make the Hall of Fame if they receive 80% of the votes from a selection committee next year.

If McMichael is elected to the Hall of Fame, fans and family will hold a "Caravan to Canton" next August to cheer him on.

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