GRIFFITH | Whatever has gotten into the Bears' defense as of late, Mike Richardson believes it's contagious.
"That's what it's like whenever one of your defensive teammates takes it in for a score," Richardson said, who appeared at Bridges' Scoreboard Restaurant and Sport Bar in Griffith on Monday night.
"When you see your linebacker like Lance Briggs get a touchdown, or even a defensive lineman get one, it makes everyone on defense wanting to get their share," Richardson continued.
Over the past three games, the Bears have come up with five "pick sixes" with Briggs and fellow veteran Charles Tillman each with a pair.
"Lately, they've been fun to watch," said Richardson, who had a 90-yard interception return as a starting cornerback amid the Bears' vaunted "46 Defense" of 1985, which cut an impressive swath all the way to a Super Bowl XX championship.
Richardson was also one of the soloists with the moniker "L.A. Mike" in the "Super Bowl Shuffle."
Whether this year's Bears cut their own pop-chart single and finally break the franchise's 27-year championship drought remains to be seen. But Richardson sees the team starting to attract more of the national spotlight.
"They've been under a lot of people's radar, but now people around the league are starting to take notice," Richardson said. "They've got my attention."
A year after the Super Bowl season, Richardson led the Bears with seven interceptions and earned a second-team All-Pro nod. He remained with the team through the 1988 season. One of his last games with the Bears was the famous "Fog Bowl" playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"It got to the point where I could barely see someone like you where you're standing right now," Richardson said to Bridges' co-owner Scott Bridges, who was standing less than eight feet away. "It was crazy."
After Richardson's final NFL season in 1989, his life got lost in the fog with a series of drug-related convictions. Among the former team members who stood by and supported Richardson throughout his ordeal was his former coach, Mike Ditka.
"We're a family, and like a family we look out for each other," Richardson said. "Coach (Ditka) was there for me while I was going through some tough times in my life because that's the type of person he is.
"I still try to keep in touch. I know (Ditka) is getting up there in age, so it's probably nice to hear from his players once in a while."
The Compton, Calif. native now lives in Chicago and helps train some of the topnotch prep football players in the area, including Crete-Monee senior standout receiver LaQuon Treadwell.
"When I was in high school, I got some offers from (Division I) colleges, but nothing like this kid, who is wanted by just about every college coach in the country," Richardson said of Treadwell, who was to be formally honored by CMHS on Tuesday for his selection to the Under Armour All-American Football Game.
"He will definitely be playing on Sunday."