Steve McMichael Hospitalized Amid ALS Battle, Days After HOF Announcement

By Jason Hall

February 16, 2024

Steve McMichael
Photo: Getty Images

Chicago Bears legend Steve 'Mongo' McMichael was hospitalized for a urinary tract infection amid his ongoing battle with ALS and days after he was announced as an upcoming inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jarrett Payton, the son of McMichael's late Bears teammate and Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton and a former running back for the Chicago Slaughter during McMichael's head coaching tenure, initially shared a post on his X account "asking for prayers" for the former defensive tackle and later confirmed that "Steve is fighting a urinary tract infection," which was also confirmed to ABC 7 Chicago by a spokesperson for McMichael's family. McMichael had previously revealed his ALS diagnosis in an exclusive interview with the younger Payton, who referred to him as his "football uncle and my last coach," in April 2021.

A spokesperson for Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox told ABC 7 Chicago that McMichael was in the intensive care unit after he spiked a fever and appeared to be very lethargic. The Texas native was initially suspected to have suffered pneumonia when he was taken to the hospital Thursday.

McMichael's hospitalization came exactly one week after he was announced as part of the 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

McMichael said he was initially diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, after visiting the Mayo Clinic in January 2021, which was confirmed after opting for a second opinion at Rush Hospital, he revealed in his exclusive interview with Payton in April 2021.

“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? 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," McMichael said at the time.

McMichael was a mainstay on the Bears' defense for 13 of his 15 NFL seasons, having also spent his first season with the New England Patriots in 1980 and final season with the Green Bay Packers in 1994. The Houston native made two Pro Bowl appearances (1986, 1987), received two First-team All-Pro nominations (1985, 1987), three Second-team All-Pro nominations (1986, 1988, 1991) and was named to the Pro-Football-Reference 1980's All-Decade Team, as well as the 100 Greatest Bears list celebrating the franchise's centennial anniversary in 2019.

McMichael was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010 for a career at the University of Texas that was capped off with first-team All-American and Hula Bowl defensive MVP honors during his senior season. He also served as the head coach of the Chicago Slaughter from 2007-2013, which included winning a CIFL championship in 2009.

McMichael also enjoyed a notable post-football career in professional wrestling, first appearing in the corner of Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor for his then-WWF WrestleMania XI main event match against Bam Bam Bigelow. The former defensive tackle was later hired by rival promotion WCW as a color commentator before eventually becoming an in-ring competitor, most notably as a member of the legendary "Four Horsemen" stable alongside Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and others.

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