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MING THE MERCILESS NOW HAS HATRED IN HIS HEART FOR BEARS

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Blood boiling, spit flying, legs churning, arms pumping, expletives spewing, hair flowing out the back of his helmet, Ming the Merciless returns to Soldier Field Monday night.

This time, Steve McMichael will be wearing the green and gold of the Green Bay Packers. The enemies. For all those years, the enemies.Now, the Chicago Bears are on McMichael's hate list. They threw him away after 13 seasons, told him he wasn't good enough, and let him go up the NFC Central road.

So, in a nationally televised game between Chicago (4-3) and Green Bay (3-4), the man the Bears called Ming returns - with a chip on his shoulder.

Though McMichael declined interviews in the week leading up to the game, the Bears know he'd like nothing more than to knock them out of contention for the division title.

Safety Maurice Douglass said: "It'll be a very emotional game for him. I know he'll want to prove something to the Bears staff."

Defensive end Alonzo Spellman: "We expect a very fanatical effort out of Ming. He's always fired up for a game, but this is another level."

Offensive tackle Troy Auzenne: "He's going to be on fire."

Linebacker Ron Cox: "I don't know exactly what to expect, but you know he'll be fired up. Last year against Minnesota, Ming was (upset) and he started biting a Coke can on the sideline. Bit right through it. His mouth was bleeding but he kept right on chewing. Incredible."

Incredible also describes the career of McMichael, whose 94 sacks make him the only defensive tackle ranked among the NFL's all-time leaders.

An inspirational leader, he helped the Bears win the 1986 Super Bowl, and was perhaps the dominant character on a line that also featured Refrigerator Perry, Danimal Hampton and Sack Man Dent.

"I watched McMichael and I always liked the way he played, the way he dressed, the way he acted," said Jim Flanigan, a rookie defensive tackle for the Bears who grew up in Wisconsin and whose father, Jim, played for the Packers from 1967-70.

"I always thought he was cool. With that long hair, he always reminded me of a caveman, a Neanderthal. And he's an undersized guy, like myself ... "

Bears end Trace Armstrong learned a lot about life in the NFL from McMichael, who just turned 37.

"The game was so important to Ming," Armstrong said. "I can only remember him missing a couple of practices. When you see a guy out there who's 36, with fluid on both knees, and you've got a turned ankle, it's hard to say, `I'm not going to practice today."'

As valuable as McMichael was, he wasn't valuable enough to Bears president Michael McCaskey and coach Dave Wannstedt.

When Chicago released him in April, McCaskey said: "Some of our self-scouting showed that as the (1993) season went along, he was less effective."

And last week, Wannstedt said: "With the young defensive linemen that we had and with us drafting Flanigan, it was just a decision to go with younger guys rather than older ones."

The Packers are thrilled the Bears made that choice.

McMichael has fortified a line that includes Reggie White, Sean Jones and John Jurkovic, and has helped Green Bay to the NFL's No. 3 defensive ranking. McMichael plays mostly when the Packers expect running plays; the Packers' rush defense is the league's second-best.

More than any other Green Bay player, quarterback Brett Favre appreciates having McMichael as a teammate this week.

"It's great not to see Steve against me," he said, "because every game, he's sacked me at least once."