When you think of Chicago Bears running backs, the first name that probably pops into your head is Walter Payton. After all, Payton is the Bears' historical leader in rushing and is known by many as the best Bears player of all time. You may also think of guys like Neal Anderson, Matt Forte and Gayle Sayers.
The Bears have built a strong tradition through the running game and the 10 players that are about to be presented represent not only the greatest running backs in Bears history but some of the best in NFL history as well.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 running backs in Bears history in order of the total number of yards that they have going from last to first.
Suhey will forever be remembered as the guy who ran alongside Payton for a part of his career and helped lead block for Sweetness during some of his most successful seasons. Suhey was with the Bears from 1980 to 1989 and had a total of 828 carriers for 2,946 yards and 20 touchdowns. He averaged 3.6 yards per carry over his career.
Suhey was one of the most recognizable of the Bears players during their Super Bowl run and is a favorite of many Bears fans.
Galimore played with the Bears from 1957 to 1963 and is ranked as the ninth best running back in Bears history. He rushed 670 times for 2,985 yards and had 26 touchdowns.
Galimore was a very athletic running back with good speed and quickness, and the Bears absolutely loved him. Unfortunately his career and his life were cut short as he was killed in a car wreck in 1964. After the accident, the Bears retired his No. 28 jersey.
Bears teams of the late '70s and early '80s had the two solid running backs and Payton was one of those running backs while Harper was the other. Harper ended up playing for the Bears from 1975 to 1982 and carried the ball 747 times for 3,044 yards and 32 touchdowns.
He was a pretty nice addition and was a key part of the blocking schemes that the Bears set up for Walter Payton during his time in Chicago.
Unfortunately for Harper, he ran into some legal trouble a little while back and may be remembered more for that than what he did with the Bears.
Forte comes in as the seventh-ranked running back in Bears history and should continue to move up this list as his career continues. Forte was drafted by the Bears in the 2008 NFL draft (in the second round) and has rushed a total of 811times for 3,236 yards with an average of 4.0 yards per attempt. He also has 18 touchdowns.
Forte has the ability to keep moving up this list (by the end of next season it’s possible he could overtake Thomas Jones who is currently sitting at No. 5 on this list) as long as he stays healthy and the Bears continue to use him properly.
Here’s hoping he will move up the list and cement himself as a big part of Bears history.
Thomas is sometimes forgotten when people discuss the top running backs in Chicago Bears history. His career with the Bears wasn’t that long as he played from 2004 to 2006 but he racked up 3,332 yards on 858 carries averaging 3.9 yards per carry. He also had 21 touchdowns during his career in Chicago.
Jones, as mentioned, took over for Thomas as the Bears' starting running back and his two-year stint with the team had a pretty successful run. He ended up rushing 850 times for 3,493 yards and 22 touchdowns. His average per carry was 4.1 yards.
The Bears traded Jones away to the Jets (where he had a lot of success) for a second-round pick after they felt that it was time to clear the way for Cedric Benson. We all know just how well that turned out and Chicago probably regretted letting Jones go. He is now with the Kansas City Chiefs and could be ready to close out his career soon.
Although he didn’t play that long in Chicago (he played from 1965 to 1971), Sayers is the Bears' fourth-ranked running back in their history. He had a total of 991 rushing attempts for 4,956 yards and 39 touchdowns. His average yards per carry was 5.0, which is the highest by any running back in Bears history.
Sayers career was cut short by a knee injury, his second major knee injury during his career and he retired from football in 1971. He was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 and has had several successful business ventures since his retirement.
Coming in third on our list of the top Bears running backs in their long history is Casares. Casares played with the Bears from 1955 to 1965 and rushed 1,386 times for 5,657 yards. His yards per attempt over the course of his career was 4.1.
Anderson is currently ranked second in Bears history in rushing yards and was a nice complement to Payton and a good fill in after he retired. Anderson rushed for a total of 6,166 yards on 1,515 attempts with a total of 51 touchdowns. His average yards per carry was 4.1.
Anderson helped the Bears maintain their strong rushing attack after Payton retired and quietly ended up as the Bears' second-best running back.
He now runs a peanut farm in Florida.
The No. 1 rusher in Chicago Bears history is also considered by many to be the greatest player to ever play for the Bears. That guy is Walter Payton. Payton ranks first on the Bears rushing list with 16,726 yards (and is second in NFL history in rushing).
He had a total of 3,838 attempts over the course of his time with the Bears (which was from 1975 to 1987). He also had 110 touchdowns during that time and his average yards per rush was 4.4.
Payton’s retirement in 1987 brought the end of one of the best eras in Bears football. Payton will forever be remembered as someone who embodied the hard working spirit of Chicago and its people. He was one of the toughest running backs in league history and one of the most respected players ever.
Payton was diagnosed with bile duct cancer and wasn’t given too long to live. He finally succumbed to the disease on November 1, 1999.