One of two founding members left from the original NFL alongside the Arizona Cardinals, the Chicago Bears have one of the most storied and winningest histories in the league. Nine NFL Championships, a Super Bowl win, and the most regular-season wins in NFL history. Not bad for the franchise that will be celebrating its 100th year this September.
Such a long and successful run, of course, would not be possible without a couple of historic players suiting up in those iconic navy and orange jerseys. So bear down and get ready to go through the top five biggest names in the Bears history.
Fitting 100 years of winning football in a top five list is an impossible task. The Bears have over 30 players in the Hall of Fame. They’ve also retired 14 jerseys, most in the NFL and fourth in all of pro sports. So before we get started, here are a few names who just barely missed the cut but are definitely legends as well.
Mike Ditka, Bulldog Turner, Doug Atkins, Bill George, Mike Singletary, Danny Fortmann
5. Bronko Nagurski
Both a powerful ball-carrier and capable passer, the ex-Golden Gopher and All-American led the Bears to three NFL titles. The former wrestler rushed for over 3,900 yards and completed a respectable 36 passes during his time with the Bears. He was also named to the NFL’s 1930s all-decade team.
4. Gale Sayers
Even if he was hampered by injuries throughout his playing years, the former top-four pick out of the University of Kansas was still able to have a legendary career. The “Kansas Comet” was a rocket as early as his rookie season. He won the Rookie of the Year award, scoring 22 touchdowns, having 6 in one game, while gaining 2,272 all-purpose yards.
He would go on to lead the NFL in rushing yards twice, first in 1966 and again in 1969 just a year after he had torn several ligaments in his knee. Though his career ended abruptly, his success and greatness were solidified when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
3. Sid Luckman
T-formation. Three-time pass touchdown leader. MVP. Four-time champion. This Brooklyn native has the stats and accolades that go up against anyone. On top of that, his impact on the game was felt immensely as he is often recognized as the one who popularized the T-formation, or full house formation.
Luckman is a legend. Simple as that.
2. Dick Butkus
This Illinois homer and Chicago Bears lifer earned the distinction as being one of the measuring poles for middle linebackers. He was named Defensive Player of the Year for two straight years in 1969 and 1970. Ultimately, he retired with 22 interceptions and 27 fumble recoveries. Not bad for a hometown kid.
1. Walter Payton
Known as “Sweetness”, I think it would be pretty safe to say that this Bears hero had one sweet career.
Hall of Fame coach and Bears legend Mike Ditka once called Payton the greatest football player he’d ever seen. The high praise was earned as Payton led the league in rushing attempts for four straight years from 1976-1979. He also had the most rushing yards in the league during the 1977 season, the same year he won MVP.
The cherry on top of this sweet career was when he led Chicago to a victory in Super Bowl XX, the only Super Bowl win in Bears history.