Chicago Bears: The All-Time “Flop” Team

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IJune 8, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 30:  Tank Johnson #99 of the Chicago Bears answers questions during Media Day at Dolphin Stadium on January 30, 2007 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

The Bears are one of the oldest teams in the league, and after being around so long, they tend to have quite a few players that have played with them and haven’t played up to their billing. 

Some of the players that they had have suffered injuries and have never been able to regain the same form that attracted the Bears to them in the first place.  Others just came into the NFL or from another team and failed, sometimes miserably.

Although this list may not include a player for every position and may include more than one player per position, it’s a very good representation of where the Bears have faltered since coming into the NFL decades ago. 

So, without further adieu, here is the list of famous Bear “flops” throughout their long and storied history.

Quarterback

Cade McNown and Rick Mirer 

McNown never got along with his teammates or the fans, and Mirer was a guy who just never worked out.  The Bears used a first-round pick to get McNown while they traded a first round pick to get Mirer.  Both were horrible busts for the Bears.

Running Back

Curtis Enis, Rashaan Salaam, Cedric Benson, and Joe Moore 

All of these guys were first-round picks by the Bears at some point in time, and all had poor careers with the team. 

Enis didn’t do as well as anyone would have hoped, and eventually, he succumbed to an injury and left football.  Rashaan Salaam started out well for the Bears, but injuries and problems holding onto the football made his career short in Chicago.  Benson had too many off the field problems for the Bears to retain him, and Moore was an injury risk that just never panned out.

Wide Receiver

Mark Bradley and David Terrell

There may be some additional guys who could fall into this category, but the Bears really missed it with both Bradley and Terrell. 

Bradley was the unfortunate victim of too many injuries early in his career, so he never quite panned out.  Terrell may have been a victim of poor quarterback play during his time with the Bears, but he was not worth the pick that the Bears made for him, and the team suffered as a result.

Offensive Lineman

Orlando Pace and Stan Thomas

Pace is a Hall of Fame player, but by the time he reached the Bears, he was too worn out and too ineffective to play.  Management felt that Pace might be a good short-term solution at the left tackle.

In the end, the possibility of him being a strong solution there failed, and he was replaced by the guy who should end up being their long-term solution at the position, Chris Williams.  Pace hasn’t signed a deal with any team since being released by the Bears, and his career may be over.

Thomas was a poor draft decision from the start, and he never quite had the skill to compete in the NFL.  He had a short career with both the Bears and the (then) Houston Oilers before leaving the NFL.

Defensive End

Dan Bazuin, Michael Haynes, John Thierry, Alonzo Spellman, Dave Gallagher, and Lloyd Phillips

You would think that a team that has staked a lot of pride in its defense would have had much better luck with some of these picks, but in the end, things just weren’t meant to be for these six guys at the defensive end position. 

Gallagher, a hot commodity out of the University of Michigan, played just one season for the Bears, despite being a first-round pick in the 1974 NFL Draft.  He was out of the league in just four seasons.

Lloyd Phillips, a first-round pick in the 1967 NFL Draft, played for the Bears from 1967 to 1969.  He came in as a highly touted end out of the University of Arkansas but didn’t live up to his college hype (like so many draftees do).  He was out of the league after the 1969 season. 

Alonzo Spellman is somewhat of an enigma to Bears fans.  He had a longer career with the Bears than most of the players mentioned here at this position (Spellman played in Chicago from 1992-1997, and he recorded a total of 30 sacks), but he never quite lived up to the hype and was often injured, which eventually lead to his release.  Spellman also suffered a bi-polar disorder, which hurt his career both with the Bears and in the NFL.

John Thierry was a risky small school player out of Alcorn State (incidentally, the same school that quarterback Steve McNair came from), and the Bears picked him 11th overall in the 1994 NFL Draft.  Thierry ended up playing four seasons for the Bears, but didn’t quite pan out the way that they had hoped he would.  He did continue his NFL career after leaving the Bears, but never really proved he was worth being picked at No. 11 in the first round.

Michael Haynes was yet another first-round draft pick (at the defensive end position) that the Bears gambled and lost on.  However, some of what happened to Haynes occurred because of the new style of defense brought to the Bears (by current head coach Lovie Smith), which called for defensive linemen who were smaller and quicker.  This wasn’t the kind of defense that fit Haynes, so he was let go by the Bears after a two-year career with the team. 

Dan Bazuin (along with linebacker Michael Okwo) is a guy that General Manager Jerry Angelo will forever be remembered for taking a risk on and failing miserably.  Bazuin was an injury risk coming out of college, but that didn’t seem to bother Angelo, who drafted him in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft, then saw him go down right away with an injury and never really recover. 

Bazuin was let go and has since tried to stick with the Houston Texans.

Defensive Tackle

Terry “Tank” Johnson

Johnson flopped because of his off-the-field problems and not necessarily his on-the-field play.  He was an integral part of the Bears making it to the Super Bowl in 2006, especially after star defensive tackle Tommie Harris went out for the season with a knee injury.  However, during that same season, Johnson was arrested for gun possession and had to petition a court to be able to leave the state just to go to the Super Bowl. 

After that, he was cited for another violation (during the offseason), and so the Bears let him go.

Linebacker

Michael Okwo and Waymond Bryant

Not a lot of people will remember who Waymond Bryant is.  Bryant was selected fourth overall in the 1974 NFL Draft and played just five seasons for the Bears.  He didn’t do much during his career there, and eventually faded away. 

Okwo, the second player in the Angelo draft failure of 2007, ended up playing just one season with the team.  He was chosen in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft where perhaps an offensive lineman could have been selected instead.  That was clearly a much bigger need than an undersized linebacker.

The Bears, like any other team, have always had their share of players who failed to live up to their lofty draft status, and these are just a few of the players who failed to meet the organization’s expectations. 

In the future, unfortunately, we are bound to see some more players like these drafted by the club.  Let's hope that doesn’t happen often. 

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