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Columnist
Hampton happy that historic Gatorade dump about to get its due
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 1/30/2009 12:02 AM

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After years of taking our case to the people, of making their claim our cause, the 1984 Bears will finally get their just due on the grandest stage of all.

At the Super Bowl.

No, we're not talking about the '85 Bears. This is for the 1984 Central Division champs and their rightful place in history.

And what, exactly, is that?

Well, let's start with a quest that began more than a decade ago.

Tired of years and years of Gatorade celebrating the 1986 N.Y. Giants as the team that invented the bucket dump, we tried to get Gatorade to dunk their story and give credit where credit was due.

They wanted nothing to do with the facts getting in the way of their good story, which in their version had the Giants of Harry Carson and Bill Parcells as the first to do it, and of all places, in the Super Bowl.

But it wasn't true.

The Bears introduced the move to the NFL in 1984 when Dan Hampton dumped a bucket on Mike Ditka as the Bears clinched the NFC Central.

And after all these years of trying to set the record straight, of devoting considerable energies and emotions toward such a worthy cause, Hampton and the Bears will get their moment in the Tampa sun - and their recognition.

It'll occur Sunday on the big stage, during the Super Bowl pregame show, when NBC runs a feature by Darren Rovell of CNBC (known in this space as the Erin Burnett-Work).

"You did it. You carried the ball. You beat the drums,'' Hampton said. "You wouldn't let our dream die.''

Aw, shucks. I don't want the credit. All that matters is that the truth come out, and after a lifetime spent trying to find a purpose for my existence, I have finally found a campaign and a solution that can change lives and have a lasting effect on humankind.

"OK, well, I'm not sure what to tell you about that. You might want to rethink some of that,'' Hampton said. "In any case, all I know is, (bleep) the Giants.

"It's nice to see that it's happening this year. It's 25 years. Good number. It's about time.''

So how did it happen in 1984?

It surely wasn't planned, unlike the Giants and all that followed.

"Steve McMichael and I were used to winning. That's all we ever did in college, but our buddy, Jim Osborne, had never won anything in all his years as a Bear,'' Hampton said. "We were standing around, waiting for the game to end in Minnesota, and I said, 'We have to do something to commemorate winning the division.'

"I just happened to be standing right next to the bucket. I said to McMichael, 'You stand in front of Ditka so he can't go anywhere, and when the clock ticks down, I'll drop this thing on him.' So I did. It's that simple.''

Normally, it takes more than one man to lift that bucket, but this is Hampton we're talking about.

"It's as fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday, and I remember seeing it on the highlights that night, and the dumb look on my face,'' Hampton said. "The next year we won the Super Bowl and it didn't even occur to us to do it again.

"Been there, done that. The defense carried Buddy (Ryan) off the field and that was it.''

And when the Giants did it the following year, they brought attention to someone else's invention, and took credit for it.

"Look, the dunk happens all over the world now, from middle school to the pros and in every sport,'' Hampton said. "Someone stomped the grape first, and we deserve the blame or the praise, whatever it might be.''

Sunday, Hampton and the Bears will get just that.

At last, and to borrow from the immortal Johnny Drama:

"Victory!''

First fan

Illinois governor Pat Quinn is as die-hard a White Sox fan as you'll find anywhere, but he admits President Obama is almost as nuts for the South Siders.

"We were at a fundraiser right near the end of the campaign and I saw him at the end of the night,'' Quinn told us recently. "He says, 'You'll never believe who was just here. Jim Thome's wife just came through the line to say hello!'

"He was that excited about meeting Jim Thome's wife. Kind of says it all.''

The good guys

Wives and girlfriends of Chicago Wolves players will host their annual Valentine's Day fundraiser during seven home games in February.

Proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Network of Strength, the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and Chicago Wolves charities. For more info, visit chicagowolves.com.

The quote

White Sox GM Ken Williams, on whether he's still shopping: "You can't offer a guy a dollar if you've only got 50 cents.''

Best headline:

Theonion.com: "Kurt Warner last player remaining from 1947 Cardinals.''

Just asking

E-mailer Bob K.: "You mentioned Kenny Williams' ability to find former high picks who have fallen on hard times elsewhere, and resurrecting them. Does this mean Kenny will be doing business with Jerry Angelo?''

And finally ...

S.F. Chronicle's Scott Ostler, on 28 voters leaving Rickey Henderson off their Hall of Fame ballots: "If they were voters for the Evil Hall of Fame, Hitler would have to wait until his second year.''

brozner@dailyherald.com