Ol’ No. 55 played the most games of any Bear. Even though the linebacker finally retired in 1980, he never lost his passion for football and the Bears.
One of my all-time favorite days in the business occurred last fall when I watched the Bears-New England game with him and his long-time teammate and radio partner Ed O’Bradovich. Their Bears postgame radio show on WSCR-AM 670 was a must-listen and they were in vintage form after the Patriots slaughtered the Bears.
I reflected back on that day in a column in the Tribune:
Before the game, Buffone repeatedly said the Bears had to hit the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski at the line. Sure enough, the Bears didn’t touch him and the star tight end caught three touchdowns.
At one point, Buffone, wearing relaxed-fit jeans while watching in a back room, leaped out of his chair in indignation.
“C’mon, are you kidding me?” said Buffone, waving his arms. “You have to pop that guy at the line. When we were playing, that tight end would be on his back.”
After the Patriots finished the slaughter, it was time for Buffone and O’Bradovich to take their shots at the Bears.
Buffone opened the show by saying, “I could have gone to Rush Street last night and found 24 players who could do better than the Bears did today.”
Buffone used to litter the shows with critiques calling the Bears “tomato cans,” “soft as a grape,” “garbage” and the ever-popular, “They couldn’t play dead.”
In an interview, Buffone showed that sugar-coating wasn’t part of his vocabulary.
“”I didn’t play the trombone or piano for 14 years. I played football,” Buffone said. “Don’t give me this Kumbaya stuff and ‘We’ll try again next week.’ You’re trying to tell me I don’t know what’s going on? Even a moron would know after 14 years.”
When the Bears lose next year, it won’t be the same without Buffone.