The Chicago Bears are one of the most storied franchises in the history of the National Football League. The Bears have sent more players to the Hall of Fame than any team in the NFL. Likewise, they also have the most number of player jerseys retired in the history of the NFL.
Here are the best Chicago Bears players of all-time:
10. George Connor
George Connor was the Bears’ 5th overall pick in the 1946 NFL draft after a standout collegiate career in Notre Dame where he was a consensus All-American in his final two NCAA seasons. Connor played in just a total of 8 NFL seasons but he made the Pro-Bowl four times and was a First-Team All-Pro selection five times. What is impressive is that he made the All-Pro team in three different positions: offensive tackle, defensive tackle, and linebacker. Connor’s career was cut short by a knee injury but no one has ever dominated three positions as he did.
9. Bulldog Turner
Clyde Douglas Turner was better known as Bulldog, the nickname his college teammate A.J. Roy gave him during his amateur days. Turner was Chicago’s 7th overall pick in the 1940 NFL draft and played center on offense and linebacker on defense. He holds the distinction of having four interceptions in five NFL championship games with his Bears team winning four of those title games. He was a two-time Pro Bowl, two-time NFL All-Star and an 8-time First-team All-Pro.
8. Bill George
Bill George was the Chicago Bears’ 23rd overall pick ( 2nd round ) in 1951 after attending Wake Forest. George was considered as the game’s first true middle linebacker and is hailed as the creator of the 4-3 defense. He made 8 consecutive Pro-Bowl appearances from 1954-1961. He was also named to the First Team All-Pro in a total of 8 seasons and was named to the NFL’s 1950 All-Decade team. George won the NFL title in 1963 when he was the leader of the Bears’ defense. George was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974.
7. Red Grange
The Galloping Ghost was a three-time consensus All-American who led Illinois to the National title in 1923. Harold “Red” Grange is considered one of the greatest college football players ever, with ESPN giving him naming him as the best collegiate player of all-time. He formed the rival American Football League in 1926 one year after joining the Bears in 1925. He won the title twice with the Bears and was one of the heroes of the 1933 championship game. Grange was named to the NFL’s 1920 Decade Team and he was a two-time First-Team All-Pro selection.
6. Doug Atkins
Doug Atkins was 6-8 and he used his enormous size and insane agility to his advantage. He was a feared pass rusher who used his skills as a high jumper to deflect passes. Along with fellow Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti, he was one of the game’s first true defensive superstars. Atkins was the 11th overall pick of the NFL draft in 1953 and he played for the Bears from 1955 to 1966. He was a starter in the Pro Bowl in eight out of his last nine seasons with the Bears. Atkins was also a five-time First-Team All-Pro selection during his NFL career.
5. Mike Ditka
Whether as coach of player, Mike Ditka fits the mold. But before he became a championship-winning head coach in Chicago, Mike Ditka was a superb player for the Bears. He was a great tight end who was a terrific blocker and pass catcher during his prime. Ditka was the first-ever tight end to be named to the NFL Hall of Fame. He played for the Super Bowl VI title team and the NFL championship team of 1963. As a coach, Ditka installed one of the toughest defenses the league has ever seen and he led the team to victory in Super Bowl XX.
4. Gale Sayers
Known as the Kansas Comet, Gale Sayers owns many NFL records such as most touchdowns during a rookie season ( 22 in 1965), most touchdowns in a single game ( 6 ), highest career kickoff return average (30.56) and most return touchdowns in a single game ( 2). Injuries shortened his NFL career but there was no doubt he was one of the best runners ever in the game. But not only was Sayers a great running back with moves more than anybody except perhaps Barry Sanders but he was also an excellent return man.
3. George Halas
Papa Bear was one of the co-founders of the NFL in 1920 and was one of the first 17 inductees to the Hall of Fame in 1963. Halas also played Major League Baseball with the New York Yankees. He won 8 NFL titles and was a member of the NFL 1920s All-Decade team. After his playing years were over, he coached the Bears for 40 years and only six of his teams finished below the .500 mark. Don’t forget that the NFL Hall of Fame is located at George Halas Drive.
2. Dick Butkus
Dick Butkus was one of the greatest linebackers of all-time and arguably the best linebacker during his era. He was known as a fierce tackler who played with a relentless style. He is also known as one of the most intimidating linebackers ever to play the game. He was drafted 3rd overall in the 1965 NFL draft and played for the Chicago Bears from 1965-1973. He was an 8-time Pro Bowl member and a 6-time First-Team All-Pro selection. Butkus was also a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year winner and a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time team.
1. Walter Payton
The greatest Chicago Bears player of all-time is also the greatest running back of all-time. Sweetness once held the NFL record for most career rushing yards, touchdowns, carries, yards from scrimmage, all-purpose yards and many more. He was voted by the NFL as its 5th Greatest Player of All-Time and he was selected to 9 Pro Bowl selections. Walter Payton was a two-time NFL MVP and if there is a knock on him, it’s that he didn’t score a touchdown during the Super Bowl. Payton rushed for 1,200 yards in 10 out of his 13 NFL seasons. His legacy includes the Walter Payton Award for the most outstanding offensive player in Division 1 College Football and the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in the NFL for volunteer and charity work.