When an outsider looks at the accomplishments of Chicago in professional sports, many times the accomplishments are not seen in the larger context.
The Bears are remembered for the colorful and dominant team of 1985, but the franchise has a rich tradition that dates long before that.
The White Sox captured the World Series in 2005 under current manager Ozzie Guillen, but had many close runs in years before that such as in 1983 and in 1959.
So like any good measure and barometer of the sports conscience of a city. One must look at the past in order to realize what is in store for the future.
Chicago sports currently is in one of the better positions that it has been in a long time overall. The Blackhawks are defending Stanley Cup champions, the Bulls are on the verge of being a contender in the Eastern Conference, the Bears are a playoff team this season, the White Sox are playing to win the AL Central, and the Cubs are rebuilding with some talented pieces in place.
So who are the top 25 that are making their teams run?
Here are the players who almost made the list:
Marty Turco/Corey Crawford
(Note: Paul Konerko had not been signed in time for article but would have been a high selection)
The most dynamic special teams player of all-time, Devin Hester starts the list of great Chicago players.
The Miami Hurricane standout came into the NFL as a cornerback and kick return and punt return specialist. He made an immediate impact in his rookie season as a returner including the famous opening kickoff return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI.
He soon after moved to wide receiver where he has been somewhat inconsistent, but is always a threat on the long ball. Also, this season he has returned to All-Pro form on his punt returns and kick returns. He currently only needs one more return to hold the NFL record; which he is currently tied with Brian Mitchell for.
Hester returns opening kick in Super Bowl
With the Toronto Blue Jays, Alex Rios began his professional career in 2004 as one of the premeire young five-tool players in the game. He made it to the All-Star game twice in his career in Canada before struggling with fans and hitting baseballs.
He signed a mega-deal in 2008 for seven years and only one season later, he was put on waivers by the team that he came up with. Kenny Williams and the White Sox took a chance on the talented outfielder and it turned out to be a godsend.
Rios started off slow with the White Sox but last season he was a force to be reckoned with. He was a MVP candidate during various portions of the season, but somewhat struggled down the strech. He will looked upon to provide alot in 2011 for the White Sox, and use his talents to the max; which would be quite a sight.
When most White Sox fans think of Alexei Ramirez, the first two things that come to mind are simple. Both of them come from announcer Hawk Harrelson. His nickname "The Cuban Missle" and the famous cry of "ALEXEI!" by Harrelson at the conclusion of Mark Buehrle's perfect game.
Alexei is a defected Gold-Medalist from Cuba who has risen in America to become one of the best young shortstops in the game. In his rookie season he hit the most grand slams in baseball history by a rookie.
Last season, Alexei truly became a staple at shortstop. He was the deserving Gold Glove fielder in the American League as he was passed over in favor of Derek Jeter, but he did win the Silver Slugger Award.
Many expect 2011 to be the year for Alexei to explode with possibly 30 home runs and become an All-Star for the first time in his career.
Alexei hits a 'granny' to force a one-game tiebreaker in AL Central
Some think he an All-Star talent; some think he is a bum. Luol Deng has been a polarizing figure in Chicago since coming to the Bulls in the 2004 NBA Draft.
His lack of toughness and defensive abilities have been questioned and many fans are still frustrated at the notion that Luol Deng was the reason Kobe Bryant wasn't traded to the Bulls several seasons ago. Though Luol has been the subject of much scrutiny over the years he has been periodically one of the Bulls best players.
He has shown that he has triple-double capability and a beautiful shot from the outside. The Bulls are trying to take the next step in their conference, and Luol Deng no doubt will be one of the key pieces for any kind of success to take place.
Luol dropping 40 on B-Roy and the Blazers
One of the best relief pitchers in baseball, Carlos Marmol is on the cusp of being one of the most dominating closers in the game.
Yes, the Cubs closer is known to walk himself into many jams, but is also known to easily get out of them with hitters inability to get hits off of him. The former All-Star has one of the intimidating sliders in baseball that has made him a talent to behold. He also broke the MLB record for strikeouts per nine innings last year.
This season, under new manager Mike Quade, Marmol will look to become the shutdown stopper everyone in the "Windy City" knows he is capable of being.
One of the best warming up
The former Cy-Young Award winner was a great prize that the White Sox won at the trade deadline in 2009. Since then, Jake Peavy has not shown the greatness that he was known for in San Diego, but he is fully capable of still getting it done.
The three-time All-Star who led the league in strikeouts in two different seasons detached a muscle in his back last season just when he was starting to show "South Side" fans what he was able to do. When healthy, Peavy is easily one of the best pitchers in baseball and is commanding as it gets. Look for him to rebound in a huge way this upcoming season.
A very exciting day for the White Sox
Affectiontely known as "Sharpie" by Blackhawks fans, Patrick Sharp has been one of the most consistent scorers in Chicago over the last four seasons.
Since being labeled a castoff from the Philadelphia Flyers, Patrick Sharp has been a fan-favorite that was one of the most intrical parts of the championship run last season. He has also been very important in the leadership capacity as well wearing the "A" proudly on ice.
Sharp gets in a rare fight with a Blues player
Going into the 2008 draft, the Bears were not thought to be in the position to target a running back in the second round. When draft day came, all Bears fans were shocked when a relatively no-name player from Tulane was taken in the second round in Matt Forte.
As soon as he took the field in his rookie campaign, Matt Forte proved that the release of Cedric Benson was a good move. In his first year in the league Matt finished with the third most yards from scrimmage in the league, and put himself on the football map. After going through the sophomore slump last season he has rebounded this year, and is getting back to the kind of production that he accomplished his first year in the league.
Matt Forte runs by ALL the Lions for 89-Yard TD
The last remaining piece of the miserable Dave Wannstedt Era in Chicago is 1998 draft pick Olin Kreutz.
Since that time Olin Kreutz has proved to be one of the great Bears in the history of the storied organization. Whether it was in the many poor seasons under Wannstedt, Jauron, or Lovie Smith, Olin Kreutz was a constant.
Olin Kreutz has made six Pro Bowls over the course of his time with the Bears and has seen his share of quarterbacks behind him, to say the least.
The cunning nature of Olin Kreutz
Aramis Ramirez came to the Cubs from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003 in one of the most lopsided trades of the decade. The Cubs got a staple player in the middle of their lineup for ten years and the Pirates got what they are used to over the past 20 years—overrated hot garbage.
Since that time Ramirez has been to the All Star Game twice with the Cubs and has been one of the most productive Cubs infielders of all-time. He has given reliable play at one of the toughest positions to fill which is third base, and is one of the better clutch power hitters in the National League.
It might be, it could be, it is!
The man who chased the Cup year after year in what was almost a tragic comedy finally realized his dream last season when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Who did captain Jonathan Toews give the Cup first after they won? Marian Hossa of course.
Hossa has been one of the best scorers in the NHL since coming to Ottawa from Slovakia in 1997. Since then, he has made four trips to the All Star Game and has scored 30+ goals in seven different seasons. Last season with the Blackhawks he recorded 51 points in the regular season and 15 in the playoffs.
One of the amazing hockey games in Hawks history
Like Apollo 13, the Summer of 2010 free agency could in time be called "A Successful Failure" for the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls may not have gotten "King" James or the hometown boy in Dwayne Wade, but they did get a tough and extremely talented power forward in Carlos Boozer. The two-time Olympic medalist and former National Champion at Duke, Carlos Boozer is one of the best power forwards in the NBA. He is sure to give Derrick Rose an inside threat for years to come.
Haha! Boozer likes his 'hot sauce'
One of the overshadowed players in all the hoop-la after the Blackhawks title win was Gold-medalist Brent Seabrook. Seabrook has been the model of the toughness and blue-collar attitude that Chicago fans have always loved. Seabrook has only missed four games since 2006.
One of Seabrook's best statistics is his amazing +8 plus/minus record in the playoff run last season. The former first round pick has been the ying to Duncan Keith's yang on the blue line, and should be locked up soon for the Blackhawks so #7 can some day hang in the rafters of the United Center.
Brent Seabrook knocks around a Canuck, always a good thing
It has been an up and down ride for Lance Briggs and the Chicago Bears. Whether he was the dominant force that Bears fans have come to know or the brash and cocky guy who threatens to leave the team, Lance Briggs has always been what people don't expect him to be.
The 3rd round pick must have had a chip on his shoulder upon coming into the NFL as he made an impact as soon as he got onto the field. In his tenure in Chicago he has made six Pro Bowls, and has risen up from Brian Urlacher's shadow to be universally recognized as being one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
Briggs with big stop in playoffs (may cause motion sickness, video is shaky)
Adam Dunn is going to have to show White Sox fan's that there is room for the "Big Donkey" along with the "Big Hurt".
Adam Dunn has been one of the best power hitters of his generation. The former All-Star has been as feared of lefty hitters as the league has produced in some time. Though he has huge holes in his game in the field and in his swing, he is always productive in hitting massive boppers. And, it will be interesting to see how he plays in a possible pennant run as that would be new territory for the gargantuan DH.
"Adam Dunn is going to belt 50 homers this season, period". - Tyler from Darien, IL
Big Donkey makes the fireworks go "boom"
When the Blackhawks selected Patrick Kane with the first overall selection in 2007 some thought he was too small or too skinny to make a real impact in the NHL.
He burst onto the scene in his rookie year and ran away with the Rookie of the Year award.
Since than he has been perhaps the most dangerous man in the league when he has the puck in the open ice. He guaranteed his place in Chicago history with his Stanley Cup winning "phantom goal" to end the series with the Flyers in game 6.
Future generations will ask you and me, "Did you know it was in right away?"
And you will think of Patrick Kane.
In the light of colorful players like Dennis Rodman and Jim McMahon, Joakim Noah is becoming beloved in the city of Chicago because of his excellent play and his somewhat goofy demeanor.
Noah was the ultra-winning rebound machine in college that lead the Florida Gators to back-to-back National Titles in Gainesville. He has since been one of the best rebounders in the NBA and has vastely improved his offensive game and free throws.
He has also become one of the most hated players in rival cities such as Boston and Cleveland; which has further endeared himself to the Chicago state of mind.
Gator Boyz celebration dance by Joakim
Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher...
That is what future Bears linebackers will have to live up too. That of course will be a very tough order to live up too. Urlacher turned heads as soon as he came into the NFL in 2000. He has since captured the Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and was named to the All-Decade team.
Some had written the aging Bear off saying that he was done for, but he has been great this season, and looks to lead the Bears defense to their second Super Bowl under his reign as defensive leader.
"Mention Bears football in the last ten years, and his name comes up first." - Jimmy from Downers Grove, IL
Best commercial going for awhile
The Cubs are in the process of re-building and have turned to the "youth movement" under coach Mike Quade to bring about a new era of baseball in Wrigley Field.
Perhaps no one will be more important on the field that Clemson alum Tyler Colvin. Colvin proved last season that he could be the type of player that the organization can try to build around. Though he suffered a freak accident when a bat was impaled in his chest, he is looking to return in 2011, and lead the Cubs in an exciting season.
"The new leader of the Cubs, and the future after 102 years." -Jimmy from Downers Grove, IL
The White Sox are not known to give pitchers long term contracts. And, with the history the team has had with starters who could blame them. But Mark Buerhle has been one of the best pitchers that the franchise has ever had.
The lefty was apart of the 2005 team that broke the curse of the "Black Sox" and was the first pitcher to record a win and a save in the same World Series. His list of accomplishments are amazing considering his lack of great physical talent including his two-Gold Gloves and four All-Star appearances.
With all of this it does not compare to his no-hitter against the Rangers,and of course his perfect game against the Rays.
I was lucky enough to be at this historic game
Jay Cutler certainly has the most God-given talent of any quarterback of many Bears fans lifetime. With pinpoint accuracy and a rocket-cannon arm, it is easy to see why the Bears gave up the kitchen sink to get the Pro Bowler.
Cutler showed signs of brilliance in his time in Denver, but clashed with the former coach Josh McDaniels. In his time with the Bears, Cutler has had issues with throwing interceptions and has been under alot of scrutiny at times for making mind-boggling reads on the field. But, he has also shown this season that he can be a leader, and has seemingly fitted Mike Martz' offense to a "T".
If he can lead the Bears to a championship it would be his town.
2010 was an amazing season for Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith. He won a Gold Medal for his native Canada, he won the Stanley Cup, and he was the Norris Trophy recipient. But, in the lure of Chicago history he may be best known for getting seven teeth knocked out, and returning minutes later in a sweep of the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals.
Yes, Duncan Keith has become of the most complete players that any team could ask for. His steady play and team-first attitude is something that any organization would die to have. Like I said regarding Brent Seabrook, someday #2 should be waving high above the ice in the United Center.
Athletically not many players have ever been as talented as Bears defensive end Julius Peppers.
The five time Pro Bowler was an amazing player for the North Carolina Tar Heels before being the best Carolina Panther ever in their short team history. He decided to sign a monster contract in the off-season with the Bears, and has since made an impact on the stat sheet and off. He has given the linebackers and Israel Idonije an opputunity to make an impact with the attention he commands, and his dominance was best shown in chasing the dynamic Michael Vick around this season.
"I didn't know people that big can be that fast, any quarterback's nightmare" - Tyler from Darien, IL
He should be the new Deion and play for the Bulls in March
The 1.7% chance.
That was the percentage the Bulls had to win the draft lottery the year that the Bulls were able to land Chicago-native Derrick Rose. Than it was whether to chose Rose or forward Michael Beasley. We all know who got the better end of that decision. Rose has quickly become one of the NBA's elite, and has become an All-Star in no time at all. He is currently one of the top MVP candidates and is the unquestioned leader of the Bulls going into the future.
"Derrick Rose is the man, he does what you cannot expect nor dream a player of his size is capable of." - Alex from Willowbrook, IL
"D-Rose owns the city at 21, plain and simple" - Jimmy from Downers Grove, IL
No he didnt!
Derrick Rose and Jonathan Toews. Two players that could go down as legends that inhabitated the United Center at the same time. Thrilling Chicago fans for what hopefully will be many championships and memorable moments in the future.
Toews' no-nonsense attitude at such a young age immediately resonated with Chicagoians as soon as he put on the Indian sweater. Last season was one of the best individual and team year's for any hockey player ever. Toews won a gold medal, captained the Stanley Cup champion, and won the Conn Smythe Trophy all in the same season.
The future is extremely bright for "Captain Serious" and the city of Chicago sports wise.
Who says the city needed the Olympics?