10 Most Overrated Chicago Bears in Franchise History

Ross Read@@RossReadContributor IIIMay 9, 2012

10 Most Overrated Chicago Bears in Franchise History

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    The Chicago Bears are one of the most storied franchises in NFL history. A lot of great players have put on the Bears' jersey. Over the years, fans have developed their favorite players based on various reasons. 

    Many times, personality and likability can get in the way of production. It happens. This is why we love the backup quarterback, root for the walk-on player and wonder why that kid who hustles so hard can't get on the field.

    Having the label of overrated can be difficult. It doesn't mean you are or ever were bad, just not as great as some may make you out to be. 

    Throughout their history, the Bears have had a few overrated people come through the franchise. Here are 10 guys who are at the top of that list.  

Mike Ditka

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    As a tight end, there are not too many better than Mike Ditka. He revolutionized the position and put up Hall of Fame numbers in his career as a Bear. His coaching career, however, is overrated. 

    Ditka had two mediocre seasons as head coach of the Bears until 1984, when he finally made the playoffs. The next season, the team won the Super Bowl but never went back. Ditka was never a great X's and O's coach, and the great championship defense was credited to defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. 

    The Bears team that won the Super Bowl should have had a better showing than one and out the next two seasons in the playoffs. Did the team become too caught up in the limelight that came with the title in 1985? Possibly, and Ditka was a big part of that. He finished his coaching career in Chicago with a 6-6 playoff record but is still regarded as a legendary coach in this city.  

Bryan Cox

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    When Bryan Cox came to Chicago, he was already a three-time Pro Bowl player and was largely considered to be the next name in the franchise's lineage of great middle linebackers. He came to the team on a four-year deal worth $13.2 million. At the time, it was the largest contract in team history.  

    What the Bears got instead was a player who played only nine games in his first year with the Bears in 1996 and only recorded 68 tackles his next season while playing all 16 games. His career with the team ended after only two seasons, and it was clear to see the free-agent signing was a bust. 

Willie Gault

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    Willie Gault was certainly one of the fastest players in the league during his time in Chicago. What he was not was an elite wide receiver.

    Many people associate Gault with being a great receiver during the Bears' Super Bowl run and subsequent playoff appearances, but his production would say otherwise. 

    Gault only caught 33 passes for one touchdown the year of the Super Bowl. His next two seasons as a Bear he totaled 12 touchdowns on 77 receptions. The team has not had many receivers one would call very good, so that tends to catapult Gault to legendary status. However, he was a speedster who was average at best. 

Brendon Ayanbadejo

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    The Bears have had tremendous success on special teams since special teams coordinator Dave Toub got to town in 2004. Since then, many players on the third phase have tried to overvalue themselves instead of valuing the system and coach. None did this more than Brendon Ayanbadejo. 

    During his tenure on the Bears' special teams, Ayanbadejo made it to the Pro Bowl three straight years in 2006, 2007 and 2008. When the time came for a new contract, he not only thought he was bigger than the system he played in but also wanted a bigger role on defense.

    The Bears let him walk to Baltimore, where the most tackles he has had in a season is 31 in his larger role. Not to mention he hasn't gone back to the Pro Bowl since. 

Kevin Butler

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    Yes, it was a huge mistake for Dave Wannstedt to cut Kevin Butler after the 1995 season and replace him with Carlos Huerta. It should also be noted that Butler is the franchise's all-time leading scorer. But any kicker who plays 10-plus years with the same team should be. 

    Butler is just another guy who became a cult hero due to a Super Bowl run and cool "Butthead" nickname. At the end of the day, he was a kicker. No disrespect to those guys and what they do, but kickers should have their limits to popularity. 

Robbie Gould

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    Yup, another kicker. Next! 

Jim Harbaugh

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    Here's a guy who is a very good coach, and it often causes people to reminisce about the good old days when he was a player. Except you might not want to remember his days as a Bear. 

    The former first-round pick by the Bears put up two solid winning seasons in 1990 and 1991, but he never had good numbers as a quarterback.

    The most touchdowns he threw in a season as a Bear was 15 in 1991, but he also had 16 interceptions that season. In fact, he only had 50 touchdown passes in his seven seasons with the Bears. He had 56 interceptions during that time. 

Jim McMahon

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    Jim McMahon is a legend in Chicago, right? Should he be, though?

    No doubt the punky quarterback had the attitude and spunk needed to play on the 1985 Bears, but would they have won without him? Most likely. 

    During the team's memorable run that year, McMahon had 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Throughout his career with the Bears, he only had double-digit touchdown passes three times in seven seasons and never went over 2,500 passing yards. Who needs to throw when you have that defense and Walter Payton in the backfield? 

    Great character in Chicago sports history, but as a football player he was average at best. 

William "Refrigerator" Perry

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    There seems to be a lot of these 1985 players on this list, right? Well, when a team hasn't won a Super Bowl in over 25 years, the guys from that team remain legendary beyond what they did on the field. "The Fridge" is one of those guys. 

    His rookie season just happened to be the year they won it all. His popularity grew that year as the lovable fat guy who would get the ball at the goal line and try to punch it in. He had two touchdowns that year: one receiving and one, of course, a touchdown run in the Super Bowl. 

    Perry, however, was just another guy on defense that season. His best year came the next season when he was a run-stuffing specialist with 84 tackles. Going forward, he struggled with injuries and weight, which led to an up-and-down career.

    He's remembered more for his touchdowns during the Super Bowl run. He never scored again after that year. 

Matt Forte

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    The only real contemporary pick on this list, the case of Matt Forte seems to be a divided one. Is he an elite back because of his ability and what he can do, or is it because the team did not have many other weapons to go to? 

    There is no doubt Forte has been the focal point of the team's offense since he came into the league in 2008, but he has caused the overrated label. The running back position has been devalued in the NFL due to longevity. The current contract situation has caused the team and fans to really question just how valuable he is and how much the Bears should pay him going forward. 

    Forte's yards-from-scrimmage production has been very solid in his career. He's averaged 1,555 yards from scrimmage per season. However, his touchdown totals are not as good.

    He only has 21 rushing touchdowns in his career. Compare that to 64 from Adrian Peterson over five years, 62 for Maurice Jones-Drew over six years, 38 from Chris Johnson over four years, 24 from Ray Rice over four years and 28 from LeSean McCoy over three years. 

    Forte is currently on a franchise tag. That means he gets more than a $7 million raise this season. He still wants a long-term contract, but at what price?

    Adrian Peterson set the high-end of the market with a seven-year, $100 million contract with $36 million guaranteed. DeAngelo Williams is considered the low-end with a five-year, $43 million deal with $21 million guaranteed. What Forte gets could keep him on this list or take him off.