In his first NFL game in September of 2008, Bears running back Matt Forte ran for a 50-yard touchdown en route to a victory in Indianapolis.
From that point on, the rookie out of Tulane University never looked back, and on Wednesday he officially hung up his cleats, via an announcement on Twitter.
Forte spent eight of his ten years in the NFL in Chicago (he finished his career in New York with the Jets), becoming the best and most accomplished Bears running back since Walter Payton. He was known as one of, if not the most underrated player in football, reaching only two Pro Bowls but gaining more yards from scrimmage than anyone else in the league since his debut in ’08 with over 14,000. The next best, Eagles and Bills’ running back LeSean McCoy, is nearly 1,000 yards behind.
Forte was renowned for his dual threat ability, which came to a peak in the otherwise abysmal 2014 season, with Forte setting the NFL record for most receptions by a running back in one season with 102. He also set multiple Bears milestones, breaking the rookie rushing record (which would later be broken in 2016 by Jordan Howard) and finishing his career in Chicago with 8,602 yards on the ground.
That mark is second only to Payton, whose team record almost certainly will never be broken.
While the Bears have run out of numbers to retire, Mike Ditka‘s #89 being the last, Forte’s legacy in Chicago would make inducting him into a prospective team ring of honor extremely justifiable. It’s not out of the question to put Forte among the ranks of the NFL’s greatest in Canton, Ohio. Only three players have gained 1,400 total yards from scrimmage in each of their first seven seasons: Curtis Martin (Hall of Famer), LaDainian Tomlinson (Hall of Famer) and of course, Matt Forte.
With only one playoff appearance in his career, Forte certainly deserved better during his time in Chicago. He should be remembered as one of the greatest backs of the early 21st century, and Canton or no Canton, enters a well-deserved retirement as one heck of a Chicago Bear.