Bears lead the league in Hall of Fame players, who’s next?
Iconic names like George Halas, Bronko Nagurski, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Walter Payton, and Mike Ditka stir echoes throughout the hallowed hall. With a league leading 27 legendary Monsters of the Midway permanently hibernating in Canton, the NFL Hall of Fame could conceivably be nick-named the Bear Cave.
The most recent player to join the clan of caved Chicago Bears was Richard Dent. Watching Richard Dent’s induction reminded me of the 85′ team and that dominating 46 defense. With that reflection I began to wonder what Bear would be next to dawn the coveted yellow jacket.
The 1985 team, although collectively dominant, with the exceptions of Hall of Famers Payton, Singletary, Hampton and Dent, they were statistically average. An injury riddled Jim McMahon passed for less than 2,400 yards that season and had a passer rating of 82.8. Willie Gault led the team in receiving yardage with 704 yards off 33 receptions and only one touchdown. Others from that team as with most historic Bears teams had par careers at best. After struggling through names like Salaam, Walsh, Spellman, and Grossman the only possible consideration for the next Bear to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame is current Bears Middle Linebacker, Brian Urlacher.
In comparison to former Bears Middle Linebacker and Hall of Famer Mike Singletary, Urlacher too has played 12 seasons. Where Urlacher trails Singletary in tackles, he has more than doubled his number of sacks. Both linebackers are the face of their respective defenses and approached games with passion and an unparalleled desire to win. The biggest resume difference between Singletary and Urlacher is a Super bowl ring.
Fortunately for Urlacher, unlike quarterbacks, linebackers traditionally don’t enter the Hall based on their number of championships. Between the teams from the mid to late 80’s and the current cast of characters, the Bears have more often than not fielded talent not worthy of enshrinement. Urlacher’s superstar qualities and statistical contributions definitely measure up to Canton. The combination of a lackluster Bear talent and Urlacher’s success on the field makes number 54 the only choice as the next Bear to call the NFL Hall of Fame, home.
Unfortunately for Bears fans, if Urlacher plays three more seasons, he won’t even be first ballot eligible until the 2020 season.