In honor of this being not only the Bears 100th season but the NFL’s as well, I’ve decided to make an all-time bears lineup. The top starters at each position for the Bears over the past Century. A lot of thought has gone into this. I take into account the era that these players played in. I also take into account only what they did in a Bears uniform, not overall.
QB- Jay Cutler
I know that Cutler has a special place in every Bears fan’s heart. Love him or hate him though he is statistically the best quarterback in Bears history. He might not have thrown seven touchdowns in a game that Sid Luckman did nor does he have the highest passer rating (that goes to Josh McCown) but Cutler is the only quarterback that started more than a hundred games while also completing 60% of his passes. if only he wasn’t 51-51 as a starter
RB- Walter Payton, Matt Forte
The first one was a no-brainer. Not only does Walter Payton lead the Bears in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns but he leads TD’s by more than twice the amount of the second-highest player. His 16,726 yards on the ground are second-most all-time. His 4,500 receiving yards are the cherries on top.
The second running back seemed like it would be tougher but if you actually think about it Matt Forte is the right answer. Matt Forte has the second-most rushing yards and the fourth most rushing touchdowns in Bears history. As many of us know he wasn’t a slouch in the receiving game either adding in the second most catches as a Bear for the seventh most yards receiving.
WR- Brandon Marshall, Curtis Conway, Alshon Jeffery
Although Brandon Marshall was only here for a short while, he made the most of it. Despite only playing 45 games as a Bear he had 78 YPG managing to amass 3,529 yards good enough for 12th all time. He also managed to score 31 times good enough for 5th all time. Marshall also owns the most Receiving Yards in a season by a bear.
Curtis Conway set the bar for current Bears receivers. He was the first Bears receiver to get back to back 1,000-yard seasons. He ranks 6th all-time in receiving yards with 4,498 and 5th all-time in Touchdowns at 31. His 329 receptions rank him at 4th all time.
As much as I wanted to leave Alshon off this list he did so much in his brief time as a Bear. Jeffery is the only Bear with over 250 catches while maintaining 15 YPC. In 63 games he is 3rd in receiving yards with 4,549 to go along with 26 TD’s, which is enough for 8th all time. If only he didn’t miss 17 games in his time here.
TE- Mike Ditka, Martellus Bennett
Mike Ditka is in the top 5 for both yards and Touchdowns as a Bear having 4,503 yards (5th) and 34 TD’s (4th). He is the only TE with 1,000 yards in a season as well as having 3 of the top 4 Yardage seasons by a TE.
Martellus Bennett is not as talented as Greg Olsen, let’s get that out here right now. However, this is a list of the best Bears, not the best players who were Bears at one point. Bennett is in the top 30 for receiving yards (2,183) and 24th in Touchdowns.
OT- Joe Stydahar, George Connor
Stydahar was the first player ever drafted by the Chicago Bears and turned into the first Hall of Famer to be drafted. He was an All-Pro Tackle right out of the gate for 5 straight seasons from 1936-1940 while being a Pro-Bowler for 4 straight seasons from 1938-1941 ( there was no game before then). Stydahar was a part of the 1967 HOF class.
George Connor embodied Chicago football. Connor played High School football at De La Salle in Chicago, went on to Notre Dame (where he won the first Outland Trophy as the best college Lineman) then came back home. Connor was an All-Pro and Pro-Bowler from 1950-1953. He then received a 5th All-Pro spot in 1955. Connor was enshrined in the HOF as part of the 1975 class.
G- George Musso, Jay Hilgenberg
George Musso nicknamed “Moose” due to his imposing size played alongside Joe Stydahar. Moose was the first player to be an All-Pro at two separate positions being tackle and guard. He’s also a 3-time Pro-Bowler from 1939-1941. Musso was part of the initial Monsters of the Midway in the only instance that it was about the offense. He was part of the HOF class of 1982.
I know Jay Hilgenberg isn’t a guard but it’s really hard to leave either of these guys off this list. Unlike the other Linemen on the list from the Draft era, he was undrafted. Despite this, he was an All-Pro player for 5 straight years from 1986-1990. He also made it to the Pro Bowl 7 consecutive times starting in 1985. Hilgenberg deserves strong consideration for the Hall of Fame.
C- Olin Kreutz
Kreutz is the only offensive linemen from the modern era to make this list and for good reason. The player with the second-most starts in team history, Kreutz managed to lead the offense during its early Century success. Olin Kreutz might have only been an All-Pro two times but he was voted onto the all-decade team of the 2000s only behind Kevin Mawae. During his tenure he also owned the NFC appearing in 6 Pro-Bowls. It’s easy to see why I had to move Hilgenberg to guard on this list.
DE- Richard Dent, Doug Atkins
Dent is the Bears all-time sack leader 124.5 sacks in his career and was just straight-up dominant in his prime. The three leading sack seasons in Bears’ history not only belong to him but are in a four-year window. If we were to only count is sacks with the Bears he would still be in the top 20 for sacks all time.
At 6’8 275 lbs Doug Atkins was a mountain of a man. Atkins would be considered an all-time great had he played in the sack era. But he should be considered one regardless. Atkins was on All-Pro 9 straight Seasons with the Bears. He was one of the first players to play specifically on defense and revolutionized the game. Although during his time sacks were not recorded, it’s reported that he knocked out 8 quarterbacks in the 1963 season.
DT- Steve McMichael, Dan Hampton
Steve McMichael was an ironman. His 191 games played as a defensive player are the most in Chicago Bears’ history. These were not empty games though as he was a seven-time All-Pro defensive tackle. He was one of the most beloved players from the 80s defense. With 92.5 sacks, it seems as though he was built for the 46 defense.
Dan Hampton was a little bit more versatile than McMichael, as can be seen by the fact that he’s made the Pro Bowl as a defensive tackle and as a defensive end. But he was truly dominant at the defensive tackle position. His versatility hurt him in the fact that he was not an All-Pro year in and year out but he was still effective. Most importantly he has 57 career sacks and 10 fumble recoveries.
OLB- Bill George, Mike Singletary
Bill George is sometimes omitted when you talk about great former Bears linebackers. But he definitely is one of the best. George was an 8-time Pro-Bowler and an 8-time first-team All-Pro. George set the standard for aggressive Bears players being considered, by most, meaner than Butkus despite being smaller.
Mike Singletary will forever be known as the best player on the best team in Bears’ history. Payton was out of his prime once 1985 rolled around so it was Singletary’s team. He was an All-Pro 9 times and a Pro-Bowler 10 times. More than that, he was a two-time NFC defensive player of the year. Interestingly enough he was NFC player of the year three times.
ILB- Dick Butkus, Brian Urlacher
By far the most feared linebacker in Bears’ history, Dick Butkus was a man among boys in his era. At 6’3 245 lbs, his playing weight was only 10 lbs lighter than Khalil Mack playing weight. Despite his short 9 year career, he was an All-Pro and Pro-Bowler in all but one season. I think Deacon Jones put it best when he said that “every time [Butkus] hit you, he tried to put you in the cemetery, not the hospital.”
Brian Urlacher was the closest thing to a Dick Butkus clone we could have asked for this century. Just looking at him made running backs fear him. He is one of the few players in the 40/20 club. He owns the Bears record for most tackles in a game, tackles in a season, and career tackles. A five-time All-Pro, Brian Urlacher earned a great distinction of being a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and it’s not hard to see why.
CB- Charles Tillman, Kyle Fuller, Tim Jennings
For the first time, this group is completed by recent players.
Charles “Peanut” Tillman is arguably the most disrespected defensive back in modern history. He was only a 2-time Pro-Bowler and a one-time All-Pro. This wasn’t helped by playing in the same era as Champ Bailey, Darelle Revis, and Charles Woodson. The man forced 82 turnovers in his career. He has 8 more forced fumbles than any other Defensive back in NFL history.
Kyle Fuller is one of the only current players on this list because he’s already proven enough to me. Despite playing only 64 games he has amassed 15 interceptions. With already one All-Pro season under his belt he’s already one of the most decorated Cornerbacks in team history.
Tim Jennings flourished in his time with the Bears, matching Charles Tillman’s Pro-Bowl number and even being voted a 2nd team All-Pro. After 4 years and only 4 career interceptions in Indianapolis, he had 16 interceptions in 5 years with the Bears.
S- Gary Fencik, Mike Brown
Gary Fencik shouldn’t have even been a Bear. Had it not been for a ruptured lung he probably would have never been a Bear. However, that’s how it all played out. The result? A team captain, A Super Bowl, 4 All-Pro nods, and the most interceptions in team history (38).
Mike Brown has been overshadowed by Draft mate Brian Urlacher in many fans’ eyes. But we need to give credit where credit is due. Mike Brown was a beast. 17 interceptions in a Bears jersey, along with 2 All-Pro nods, made him an easy choice. (Overtime Brown>>>>>>>>>anyone else)
*This accounts for a 3-4 defense, 4-3 defense, and a 3-3-5 (nickel).
K- Robbie Gould
All-time leader in points (1,207)
Most Field goals made (276)
Most Field goals over 50+ yards (23)
Need I say more?
P- Pat O’Donnell
44.9 yards per punt
35% inside the 20
Only 25 Touchbacks
LS- Patrick Mannelly
Most games as a Bear all-time (245)
Reason for young Robbie Gould’s success (via Robbie Gould)
The top long snapper in modern-day football (Rick Gosselin)
PR- Devin Hester
Most return TDs in NFL history
18 of 20 return TDs as a Bear
Most non-offensive TDs in a season (6)
KR- Gale Sayers
6 career Kick Return TDs
30 yards per kick return
Did you really think I was going to be able to make a list without Sid Luckman? No chance. Luckman still holds the record for TD% in the NFL at 7.9%. Not only that, he also had 17 career interceptions as a DB.
Bronko Nagurski was bigger back in the 30s then most fullbacks are right now. He also played as a Defensive Lineman because of his size. Although defensive stats weren’t huge back then, there is a trophy that goes to the top Defensive player in college called the “Bronko Nagurski” trophy.
Players by Decade