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Da Bears: Super Bowl XX champs to visit White House, 25 years late

By Michael Martinez and Dan Lothian, CNN
September 23, 2011 -- Updated 0026 GMT (0826 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Super Bowl XX champs Bears will visit the White House on October 7
  • Oh, by the way, President Obama is a Bears fan
  • The original post-Super Bowl visit was canceled due to the Challenger explosion

(CNN) -- The Super Bowl XX champions Chicago Bears -- regarded as one of the most colorful teams in NFL history with players nicknamed "The Fridge," "Da Coach," "Sweetness," and a punk quarterback -- has been invited to the White House next month to make up for a visit that was canceled 25 years ago, a White House official told CNN Thursday.

As it turns out, President Barack Obama, who is from Chicago's South Side, happens to be a big Bears fan.

The team will visit Washington on October 7, the official said.

The Bears' initial post-Super Bowl visit to the White House was canceled because the space shuttle Challenger exploded just two days after the January 1986 victory. The nation went into mourning over the seven-member crew's deaths.

The Bears posted a 15-1 record that season and are regarded as one of the most dominant teams to win the Super Bowl.

What endeared the team to many fans, however, were the team's colorful personalities -- perhaps too colorful because the Bears never became the dynasty that many had expected.

An attendee list wasn't immediately available, but the 1985 team roster included such prominent members as coach Mike Ditka, whose Midwest provincialism inspired a "Saturday Night Live" skit with catchphrases such as "Dit-Ka" and "Da Bears" delivered in ice-hard Chicago accents; Jim McMahon, often dubbed the "punk quarterback;" the 350-pound-plus lineman William "The Fridge" Perry; and erstwhile all-time NFL rushing leader Walter "Sweetness" Payton, who died of cancer in 1999.

Considered a die-hard Bears fan, the president said it was difficult to host the Green Bay Packers at the White House in August to celebrate their Super Bowl victory last February.

Bears vs. Packers is one of the NFL's most intense rivalries. Both play in the NFC North, nicknamed the league's bruising "Black and Blue" division.

"This hurts a little bit. This is a hard thing for a Bears fan to do. It doesn't hurt as much as the NFC Championship game hurt -- but it still hurts -- you guys coming to my house to rub it in," Obama joked while honoring the Packers in August. "What are you going to do, go to Ditka's house next?"

The Bears lost to Green Bay in the NFC Championship game last season, and the Packers advanced to the Super Bowl.

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