The Top 50 Chicago Bears of All Time
The Bears boast the most members who have earned election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame so, in theory, picking the Top 50 Bears of all time shouldn't be a huge effort.
Ah, but comparing players of different generations certainly is a challenge. Putting them in order is almost insane.
Yet here I am, taking a shot at something that is guaranteed to draw debate among Bears fans.
Meanwhile, I am including coaches and front office personnel.
So here we go. And don't be shy about telling me how wrong I am.
50. Kevin Butler
Here's a shout out to a kicker. Yes, kickers are as respected as football players as Charlie Brown is. But you know what, he was pretty damn good and he kicked for the 1985 Bears. That's enough for me.
49. Neal Anderson
Replacing a legend like Walter Payton is never easy.
But he rushed for 6,166 yards on 1,515 attempts with 51 touchdowns in his career.
48. Doug Plank
Plank was one of the toughest hitters in Bears history. Sure, he was dirty, often coming in right after the play ended. But they call this "the black and blue division", so what's your point?
47. Jim McMahon
Yes, the "punky QB".
I know, he had one very good season and was injured most of the time. But look, when you're talking about a franchise that has had only one Hall of Fame QB in its history, you celebrate the man who should have been the Super Bowl MVP in January 1986.
46. Johnny Morris
Better known for his work on television interviewing Da Coach, Morris was one of the best Bears wide receivers of all-time.
45. Devin Hester
I know what you're thinking, Devin Hester coming in among the greatest Bears of all-time?
Well, yes. Look, the man set records as the most prolific return man in history, much less the Bears, albeit in a short timeframe.
Hester holds the league's all-time record for the most kick returned touchdowns in a single season.
44. Lance Briggs
This five-time pro bowler is still playing at a high level for the Bears.
43. Richie Petibon
Petibon was a safety who played nine years with the Bears, and was a five-time All Pro selection.
42. Wilber Marshall
Marshall achieved some of his accomplishments after leaving the Bears, including the 1992 defensive player of the year, but he was a major force while here. In just four seasons with the Bears, he was a first team All-Pro selection, and a second-teamer. Permanently disabled today, Da Coach continues to stump on his behalf.
41. Otis Wilson
"Mama's Boy" Otis is one of a kind, the ladies all love him for his body and his mind.
40. William "The Refrigerator" Perry
I know, based solely on his play, The Fridge doesn't deserve to be ranked this high.
But based on his contributions to the Bears in 1985, and the league overall as an advertising icon, he was revolutionary.
Perry was, at the time, the biggest man in pro football. His athleticism led to even bigger players coming to the league.
Heck, he even scored a TD in the Super Bowl as a running back. When he kicks and passes, he'll have even more fun.
39. Mike Brown
This selection is admittedly based on what could have been, more than what actually was. If you disagree, sue me.
Mike Brown was one of the smartest safeties in football when healthy. Unfortunately, that wasn't very often.
38. Doug Buffone
Big Doug played 15 seasons at linebacker for the Bears, retiring in 1980 as the all-time leader in games played for the Bears.
Buffone had more than 1,200 tackles, going over the 100-tackle mark in seven seasons. He also had the honor of serving as defensive captain for eight seasons, and retired with 24 career interceptions to lead all Bear linebackers.
37. Fred Williams
No defensive tackle in Bears history has gone to more Pro Bowls than the four Fred Williams played in. He was excellent against the run, and kept blockers away from Hall of Fame middle linebacker Bill George.
36. Joe Fortunato
No outside linebacker in Bears history has been to more Pro Bowls or been named First Team All-Pro more than this man. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
35. Keith Van Horne
A talented offensive lineman who was not recognized by the NFL yet passes the eye test, Van Horne was simply one of the best of the Bears O-line.
34. Tom Thayer
Thayer may never have been recognized as a great player by the NFL, but my eyes tell me he was.
He is also a terrific color man for Bears radio broadcasts.
33. Jay Hilgenberg
Here's another Chicago Bear you never hear about as a candidate for the Hall of Fame, yet he should be.
With the Bears, Jay was a seven-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection.
32. Brian Urlacher
Urlacher may well be a Hall of Famer someday but for now he has to reside somewhere below the 26 Bears Hall of Famers.
Urlacher is a six-time Pro Bowl pick and a four-time All-Pro selection. He was the ROY in 2000, and was the 2005 NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.
31. Jimbo Covert
Jimbo should be a member of the Hall of Fame and the fact that he hasn't even sniffed it is mind-boggling to this Bears fan.
The Bears led the league in rushing a record-setting four consecutive seasons, from 1983–1986, which tied the all-time mark, set by the 1939-42 Chicago Bears.
was named 1985 National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year. The 1985 Chicago Bears also won Super Bowl XX.
During Covert’s career, he was named to an All-Pro team four straight years (1984–1987), a first- or second-team All-NFC selection four times (1985 – 1987, 1990), and a first- or second-team All-NFL selection three times. Covert was a consensus All-NFL and All-Pro pick in 1985 and 1986. He was selected to two Pro Bowls in 1985 and 1986. In 1986, he was selected as the Miller Lite NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year.
30. Gary Fencik
Fencik played 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears and is their all-time leader in interceptions and total tackles.
They call me 'hit man', don't know what they mean!
29. Steve McMichael
"Mongo" was an underrated part of the 1985 Bears championship.
28. Olin Kreutz
Kreutz is a six-time Pro Bowl player who has anchored the Bears center position for more than nine years.
27. Richard Dent
Yes, Dent is behind the 26 Hall of Famers but only because the Sack Man hasn't yet been elected. He will, someday.
26. Mike Singletary
"Samurai Mike" was the heart of the 1985 defense.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
25. Jim Finks
Finks built many football and baseball teams into champions.
He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
24. George Trafton
Trafton was a Hall of Fame center for the Decatur Staleys (now known as the Chicago Bears) from 1920 to 1921 and 1923–1932. He is credited as being the first center to snap the ball with one hand.
23. George Musso
One of the biggest players in the league at the time and one of the reasons the Bears were nicknamed "The Monsters of the Midway."
He was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
22. William Roy "Link" Lyman
Lyman was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964.
21. George Blanda
Blanda was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981.
20. Dan Fortmann
Fortmann was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
19. Ed Healey
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964.
18. Bill Hewitt
He refused to wear a helmet and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
17. Stan Jones
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
16. "Paddy" Driscoll
Driscoll was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
15. Sid Luckman
Luckman is a Hall of Fame QB who was, by far, the best Bears QB of all-time.
14. George McAfee
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966.
13. Dan Hampton
During "Danimal's" tenure in Chicago the defense ranked #1 in the NFL in allowing the fewest rushing yards, the fewest rushing touchdowns, the fewest total yards, the fewest points and inflicted the most sacks.
Unless you believe in coincidences, the Pro Football Hall of Famer, elected in 2002, was pretty damn great. Not to mention all the knee surgeries the man had to endure in order to play.
12. Bronco Nagurski
Nagurski was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a charter member on September 7, 1963.
He was the only player in NFL history to be named All-Pro at three non-kicking positions.
11. George Conner
Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975.
10. Bill George
It has been alleged that George was the first true middle linebacker in football and, inadvertently, the creator of the 4-3 defense.
George was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
9. Bulldog Turner
A six time all-pro center, and a steady linebacker, Turner intercepted 4 passes in 5 NFL title games. Teammate George Musso once said of Bulldog, "Who knows what kind of player he would have been if he ever got to rest during a game?"
8. Red Grange
"The Galloping Ghost" was a charter member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2008, he was named the greatest college football player of all time by ESPN.
7. Doug Atkins
Atkins was a fierce defender who was known for using his immense size and agility to his advantage.
With the Bears, Atkins was a First Team All-Pro selection in 1958, 1960, 1961, and 1963; along with being a starter in the Pro Bowl in eight of his last nine years with Chicago.
6. Joe Stydahar
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967.
5. Mike Ditka
"Da Coach" was not only a Hall of Fame tight end, he was the coach of the 1985 Super Bowl champs.
4. Gale Sayers
"The Kansas Comet" records include most touchdowns in a rookie season (22 in 1965), most touchdowns in a game (6, tied with Nevers and Jones), highest career kickoff return average (30.56), and most return touchdowns in a game (2, tied with many players).
Injuries cut short his career, but was probably the most amazing runner in pro football history.
3. George Halas
How can Papa Bear not be No. 1? Well, he wasn't known as a great player.
But he helped create the league.
Impact on football? All you need to know is that the Hall of Fame is located on George Halas Drive.
2. Dick Butkus
Butkus was simply the greatest linebacker of his generation and one of the best linebackers of all time.
Butkus was also selected the 70th Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century by ESPN, the ninth-best player in NFL history by The Sporting News, and the fifth-best by the Associated Press.
1. Walter Payton
"Sweetness" retired as the greatest running back of all-time in terms of yardage.
Mike Ditka described Payton as the greatest football player he had ever seen, That's good enough for me.