Saturday, Aug. 8 marks the arrival of six new members into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As I read the names of this year’s inductees I couldn't help but think of my beloved Bears. There are a lot of former Bears who had great careers, but have not been enshrined in Canton, Ohio.
The first names that come to mind are Richard Dent, Kevin Butler, Neal Anderson and Matt Suhey.
"Matt Suhey?", you ask.
Yes, Matt Suhey.
Since he seems like the odd ball of the group let’s take a closer look at former Bear Matt Suhey's career. I was a young lad at the time, but I still remember the pig calls when he would lead block for a running back you may have heard of, Walter Payton.
Suhey would open the lane with a monster hit and you would hear the echo of "Suuuuhey!" For roughly seven seasons (80-87) Suhey was the man living in the shadow. He did much of the leg work, but didn't get much love on the stat sheet.
Let’s be honest, without recorded stats, making the Hall of Fame (HOF) is tough. Especially as time goes by and people forget how great a player was.
Suhey’s stats were pretty good for a blocking FB but for a running back they were pretty mediocre. He averaged 3.6 yards per carry throughout his career. He had 260 career receptions and had 828 carries.
To put that in perspective, Matt Forte could eclipse those numbers before the end of his 4th season, Suhey played 10.
The better way to admire Suhey's career is to look at how well Payton did between 1980 and 1987. During those years Payton had six, 1000+ yard seasons. Four of those six seasons were 1400+ yards. In addition, the 1982 season was only nine games due to the player strike. Had that been a full, 16-game season Suhey may have helped Payton have another 1,000 yard season.
I'm not saying that Walter Payton only rushed well because of Matt Suhey. A statement like that would be preposterous. But he definitely helped.
In hockey he would have been a Ron Francis of sorts (No. 2 in career assists, second only to Wayne Gretzky). In basketball he would have been Scottie Pippen. Football doesn't really give blocking FBs a lot of love. Of the 40-something Running Backs that are in the HOF, only nine are FBs. Every one of those FBs was a lead rusher on their team. You can check out those names here.
Should Suhey be a Hall of Famer? Many people would be quick to say no. I think it’s debatable.
Neal Anderson may be another name that seems out of place. Fact of the matter is he's still the second leading rusher in Bears history behind Walter Payton. Let’s not forget, this is a guy who had to replace Walter Payton.
From 1988 to 1990, when Anderson was the feature back, he had three consecutive 1,000 yard-seasons (Guess who was blocking for him for the first two—Suuuhey!). Neal Anderson replaced a HOF RB in a fashion nobody else ever has. Should Anderson be in the HOF? No, but he should be forever remembered as a great Bears player.
Kevin Butler, aka Butt-head, was the team’s most reliable place kicker up until the recent arrival of Robbie Gould. I don't think it is common knowledge how many place kickers are in the HOF.
If you said 1, you are correct.
Jan Stenerud who played from 1967-1985 is the only kicker in the HOF. Butt-head played 13 seasons (11 with the Bears). In those 11 seasons with the Bears he had over 100 points in five seasons.
Stenerud had 7, 100+ point years, in 18 seasons. I don't know how many other place kickers have similar numbers, but I can’t imagine there are many of them who played in Soldier Field wind, rain and snow. Soldier Field has never been an easy place for a kicker.
Should Butler be in the HOF? Probably not. However, Butler was a great Chicago Bear and should always be remembered by fans.
Richard Dent may be the only player on this list who will eventually make it into the HOF. Fans will always remember him as one of the most fearsome linemen on the '85 team.
He wreaked havoc throughout his career and many believe his talent was enough to get to the HOF. He's made the ballot several times but has yet to get in. Dent is tied for sixth all time in career sacks with 137.5.
That stat combined with four Pro-Bowls and a Super Bowl MVP award, would have you think he would be in the HOF already. Well he’s not but, with some time, as his numbers hold strong, he should get voted in.
So while you sit at home this weekend and catch the HOF ceremonies, think back to your favorite Bears players who aren't, and never will be, in the HOF and post those names below. Lets remember our favorite Bears!
One important thing to point out, no team has more representation in the HOF than the Chicago Bears.