By Peter Suanlarm
CEG ASSOCIATE EDITOR
The Chicago Construction Expo will not only wow construction equipment enthusiasts, contractors, landscapers and public works crews with a variety of iron but also will feature former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Dan “Danimal” Hampton as a special guest.
Hampton will be on hand Jan. 9 from noon to 3 p.m. and Jan. 10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to greet visitors and sign autographs at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center, a brand new venue that opened in July, and will accompany more than 100 exhibitors covering more than 100,000 sq.-ft. of exhibiting space for the two-day show.
As the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 pick, fourth player overall, in the 1979 NFL draft, Hampton played both defensive tackle and defensive end for 12 years. His ferocious play helped the Bears defeat the New England Patriots, 46-10, in Super Bowl XX.
“Winning the grand-daddy of all games was like hitting the pinnacle of what almost every player thinks about and aspires to,” Hampton, who went to the Pro-Bowl four times, said.
That year, the Bears won 15 games and, as a team, gave up only 198 points in 16 regular season games.
“It was sort of anti-climactic because I thought we already proved we were the best team in the league,” Hampton said. “But, it ain’t over until the last game is played.”
Hampton’s hard-nose playing style led legendary NFL broadcaster John Madden to call the former All-American out of the University of Arkansas “Danimal.”
“In 1982, John Madden made the comment that I needed a nickname like ’Manster’ [Dallas Cowboy strong safety Randy White],” Hampton said. “Madden began whimsically alluding to me as this guy ’Danimal’ because he thought I was just as good.”
Although contrary to what most people would believe, Hampton indicated that his most memorable moment of his playing did not occur when the Bears won the Super Bowl.
“Most folks would say that winning Super Bowl XX should be my most memorable moment but I really feel that it was prior to that,” Hampton explained. “Before winning, a person must find respectability. I think we [the Bears] got that by beating the Washington Redskins at RFK [Stadium] the year before.”
Hampton retired from the NFL in 1990 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.
“It was a humbling experience if you think about who is in the Hall of Fame like [Jim] Thorpe and [Vince] Lombardi,” Hampton said. “When I went there for the ceremony, it was like the last awards banquet you’ll ever need go to. That’s hitting the pinnacle. I feel very fortunate playing with great teams but I consider being inducted one of the best handful of days in my life.”
Hampton commented on this year’s Chicago Bears saying that they have not played as well or as bad as they can.
“I think they have to get a little tougher,” Hampton said. “They’re a good team but can be erratic at times.”
Currently, the Hall of Famer lives with his wife, son and daughter in Chicago and owns a security company called Professional Detective Agency, which provides security for construction sites.
The other experience Hampton had with construction includes owning a company, based out of Memphis, Tenn., that worked on underground irrigation for projects such as golf courses. His business partner at that time ran a company that worked on sewers, gutters and sanitation.
“We sold it to a larger company 15 years ago,” Hampton said. “I’ve always been around some aspect of construction throughout my life.”
The 1985 Chicago Bears left football fans with memories of one of the most dominant teams in NFL history and the Super Bowl Shuffle, a rap album and video sung by the players. Hampton was not a member of the Super Bowl Shuffle.
He opted to let his playing to do most of the talking.
“Thankfully, I was not a part of the Super Bowl Shuffle,” Hampton joked. “Just like the team that year, that video has entered into sports lore. A lot of people thought it was pretty good and still do today.” CEG