The Chicago Bears have been in existence for nearly a century (94 years to be exact) and, as one would expect, there are a plethora of players worthy of consideration for any list of all-time greats. In fact no other NFL franchise has more members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame than the Bears. The long list of legendary players made it no easy task picking the best Bears at each position- especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Bears have never been known for being an offensive juggernaut so picking guys on that side of the ball was a bit easier. So let’s meet your Chicago Bears All-Century team….
Quarterback – Jay Cutler
Perhaps no other position exemplifies the Bears offensive futility better than the QB position. Although the Bears do have a Hall of Famer at the position in Sid Luckman, his career passer rating of 75 is not exactly eye popping. Say what you will about Jay Cutler and his body language but he is the most accomplished and most talented quarterback to ever don a Bears uniform. Others in the team picture include Jim McMahon and Erik Kramer.
Running Backs – Walter Payton & Gales Sayers
Walter Payton and Gales Sayers are easy choices here. Walter Payton is considered one of the greatest players at any position of all-time. Payton was a complete and durable back that at the time he retired held the all time record for rushing yardage. Sayers was no slouch himself. The “Kansas Comet” was perhaps the greatest open field runner in NFL history. Had his career not get short due to knee injuries he might have even eclipsed the greatness of “sweetness”. Others in the team picture include Matt Forte, Neal Anderson, Rick Casares, Willie Gallimore and Bronco Nagurski.
Wide Receivers – Brandon Marshall & Johnny Morris
Much like Quarterback, the Bears have not been not for their talent at the wide receiver position. It only took Brandon Marshall one season to become the best Bears wide receiver of all-time. His 118 receptions and 1508 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012 is far and away the best Bears fans have ever seen. Johnny Morris is the only other notable Bears wideout. Although he is most well known for his broadcasting career he was a 2-time Pro-bowler. Other notables include Dick Gordon, Ken Kavanaugh, and believe it or not Marty Booker.
Tight End – Mike Ditka
Mike Ditka speaks for himself. Ditka was a 5-time Pro-Bowler, 1961 rookie of the year and the 1st tight end elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Iron Mike redefined the position with his ability as a receiver. Honorable mentions go to Emery Moorehead, George Halas and Greg Latta.
Kicker – Robbie Gould
Another current Bear on the list, Robbie “Good as” Gould is currently the 4th most accurate kicker in NFL history. Although Kevin Butler had an impressive streak going during the Bears dominance in the 1980’s, Gould is on pace to be one of the best kickers in history.
Offensive Line – Tackles Jimbo Covert and George Connor, Guards Tom Thayer and Mark Bortz, Center Jay Hilgenberg
While comparing players in different eras can be a daunting task, it near impossible for offensive linemen. While I won’t go into great detail but it’s hard to argue with the guys listed above – many of whom where from the 1985 Super Bowl team. Other that could be considered include center Olin Kreutz, Stan Jones, George Musso, Keith Van Horne. Also keep an eye on Kyle Long. If he keeps improving he’ll be on this team soon.
Defensive Ends – Richard Dent and Ed O’Bradovich
Hall of Famer Richard Dent was one of the best at the position and was a founding member of the vaunted “Monsters of the Midway”. Ed O’Bradovich was no slouch himself and although they didn’t keep many stats back in his day you can be sure he would have been one of the league leaders in sacks, hurries and knock-downs. Others worth noting include Doug Atkins, Mike Hartenstine and Julius Peppers.
Defensive Tackles – Dan Hampton and Steve McMichael
More representation from the 1985 Super Bowl Champions. These two interior linemen freed up the space that allowed the like of Richard Dent and Wilbur Marshall eat opposing quarterbacks alive. Others worth mentioning include Jim Osbourne, Tommie Harris and Stan Jones.
Linebacker – Brian Urlacher, Dick Butkus, Bill George
Perhaps no position on the Bears is stronger and deeper than linebacker. Dick Butkus and Bill George are largely responsible for establishing the Bears rich history of stingy defenses and hard-hitting linebackers. Brian Urlacher is responsible for ushering in a new era of linebackers – ones that can hit like linemen but run like a safety. Although I will probably catch flack for not including Mike Singletary, I tend to think he was vastly overrated. If I had to take a linebacker off the 1985 Bears my first choice would be Wilbur Marshall. Other on the short list of great Bears linebackers include Doug Buffone, Otis Wilson and Lance Briggs.
Cornerbacks – Charles Tillman and Roosevelt Taylor
Chris Tillman is the best cornerback in Bears history period! Although famous for his “Peanut Punch”, Tillman has also shutdown some of the best wide receivers in the game. He give Charles Johnson fits! Opposite Tillman would probably be 2-time Pro-Bowler Roosevelt Taylor. Others of note include Leslie Frazier, Mike Richardson, Donnell Woolford and Bennie Mcrae.
Safeties – Gary Fencik and Ritchie Pettibon
Gary Fencik is an easy pick as he is the Bears all time leader in interceptions and was a captain of the Bears defense during the 1980’s. Ritchie Pettibon was a tougher pick but it’s hard to argue with 5 All-Pro selections during the 1960. Other great Bears safeties include Mike Brown, Mark Carrier, Red Grange, Doug Plank and Dave Duerson.
Disagee with any of them? Let me know in the comments!