There are a few timeless Pittsburgh Steelers-related debates that have lived on over the years. Who is the better safety between Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu? Which single-season team is the greatest of all time? Two major players in that conversation are the 1978 Steelers and the 1985 Chicago Bears.

Jimbo Covert, an OT on ’85 Bears, joined the Joe Starkey Show on 93.7 The Fan last week, and the Hall of Famer was asked if the ’85 Bears are the greatest team of all time.

“I think so. We got five Hall of Famers on that team, and I think if you look back at that team, I think that ’85 team that year could have beat any team of all time,” Covert said. “I know I’m talking in Pittsburgh. I grew up in Pittsburgh. I’m a huge Steeler fan still. And I think we would’ve played with any of those Steeler teams that won the Super Bowl, any of ’em.

“Just because of the talent that we had on both sides of the ball, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. And we had the greatest player that ever lived running the football, and that made a big difference as well. So I mean, when you think back on that, it was a hell of a football team.”

Covert played at the University of Pittsburgh and grew up in Freedom, Pa., which is just a 40-minute drive outside of Pittsburgh. He grew up watching those dominant Steelers teams of the 1970s.

The 1978 Steelers had 10 Hall of Fame players, a Hall of Fame coach, and two Hall of Famers in the front office in Dan Rooney and Bill Nunn. Comparing Hall of Fame resumes between the two teams, the edge goes to the Steelers. The ’85 Bears had six Hall of Fame players and a Hall of Fame coach, which is nothing to sneeze at, but still not as impressive as the Steelers’ team.

In terms of on-field production, the Bears allowed a league-low 12.4 points per game and went 15-1 in the regular season while the Steelers went 14-2 and allowed 12.2 points per game. Most of the Steel Curtain defense were veterans in their prime at this point of the dynasty.

On offense, the Bears scored 28.5 points per game with QB Jim McMahon and RB Walter Payton leading the way. The Steelers had 22.2 points per game in 1978 with Terry Bradshaw, Rocky Bleier, Franco Harris, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, and Mike Webster standing out as the biggest names in the group.

It was the first season for the Mel Blount rule, where defensive backs couldn’t make contact farther than five yards past the line of scrimmage. That helped propel the Steelers’ passing offense that season, but the game still evolved over the course of the next seven years when the Bears put up 28.5 points per game.

Steelers HOF S Donnie Shell was asked about this debate during an interview on 97.1 The Fan’s Rothman & Ice at the beginning of May.

“We were the real deal. I’m not sure about the ’85 Bears,” Shell said with a laugh.

He declined to give an actual answer, but his remark said enough about what he actually thinks.

At the end of the day, they are two of the greatest teams to ever take the football field. There will never be an answer and the debate will live on. If there was a way to be able to see these two teams duke it out with their players all in their primes then it would be one of the all-time classics, but that will never happen. Maybe one day AI will get to a point where it can make a realistic simulation. It wouldn’t mean anything, but I would surely watch!


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