Who is the most important draft pick in Chicago Bears history? Who is the one man the team drafted that has had the biggest impact on the organization on and off of the field?
The Bears have been around since the NFL was born in 1920. For the first 16 years of the league there was no draft so that eliminates the man who is probably the most important player in their history, Harold ‘Red’ Grange. He signed to play with Chicago in 1925.
Since Grange is eliminated, there is only one man who could be considered the Bears most important draft pick of all-time. He is hall of fame quarterback Sid Luckman.
Luckman was drafted by Bears head coach George Halas in 1939 out of Columbia University. In college, he played tailback in the single wing formation just as the Washington Redskins Sammy Baugh did at TCU. But Halas drafted Luckman to play another position. Papa Bear intended to make Luckman his quarterback in the T formation.
When Luckman reported to the Bears, he was immediately handed a playbook and taught the intricacies of being a T formation quarterback. He did not take well to it at first, became frustrated and thought he’d never learn its intricacies. But Halas stuck with him and Luckman slowly began to master the position.
In 1940, the Bears made it to the NFL championship game where they faced Baugh and the Redskins. Earlier in the season, Chicago had lost to Washington 7-3. Because of this and the fact that the game was being played in Washington, Chicago entered the contest as underdogs. What happened on December 8, 1940 is NFL history.
The Bears crushed Washington 73-0. In the most important game in team history, Luckman led them to a single game record in points that still stands. The 73 point differential is, by far, the largest margin of victory in league history.
From there, the Bears went on to win championships in 1941, ’43 and ’46. Each time Luckman was the leader. He was voted league most valuable player in 1943. That same season he threw for seven touchdown passes in a game against the New York Giants. It is a record which still stands. The only thing that could stop Chicago and Luckman during this time was players and coaches leaving to serve in World War II.
When Luckman retired in 1950 he held every passing record in Bears history. Some of them still stand.
Luckman remained with the team as a coach and scout throughout the 1950’s and 60’s. He helped tutor quarterbacks in the finer points of the T formation not only for the Bears, but other college and pro teams as well.
Sid Luckman’s contributions to the game of pro football can not be overstated. Others played the position of quarterback before him, but he took it to new heights and made people realize its true potential. Every team in the league owes a debt of gratitude to Halas and Luckman.
For mastering the position of T formation quarterback first, Sid Luckman is the most important draft pick in Chicago Bears history.