Jan 17, 2013; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears new head coach Marc Trestman poses for a photo after a press conference at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

A Chicago Bears Mt. Rushmore

Established in 1919, around 94 years ago, the Decatur Staleys, Chicago Staleys, Chicago Bears were born.

A little franchise history in case you are new to the Chicago Bears family.

The franchise was founded in Decatur, Illinois, in 1919, where they were an independent team. They later moved 3 hours away from Decatur, to yes, you guessed it, Chicago, Illinois. The Windy City, where they became a part of the National Football League. Competing in the Western Division from 1933-1949, National Conference from 1950-1952, Western Conference from 1953 to 1969 and the Central Division from 1967 to 1969 before joining the National Football Conference from the 70’s to (Central Division from 1970-2001) present time.

The Chicago Bears have the most Hall of Fame inductee’s in the league with 27 members along with 13 retired jerseys which is most in the NFL. A storied franchise, with so many amazing coaches, players and passionate fans, is one of the oldest teams in the league, the other being the Arizona Cardinals, who were at one time the Chicago Cardinals.

They have the most regular season wins (722), most combined wins (739), the highest winning percentage when it comes to regular season wins (.576) and the overall highest winning percentage (.574), so when fans of other teams bash the Chicago Bears and say how much of a horrible franchise they are, ahem, check the record books. Yeah we may not have as many Super Bowls as the Pittsburgh Steelers but, we are pretty proud of those regular season and overall wins, right?

“Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory.
Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly.
We’ll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T formation.
Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you’re wearing the crown.
You’re the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, Bear down.” – Bears Fight Song written by Al Hoffman in 1941. 

Anyways, onto this Mt. Rushmore bit, of course it isn’t a real thing, but I have seen some articles floating around about other teams and who they would select to be on their very own Mt. Rushmore if it were possible. So I decided, since 80% of my family are Chicago Bears fans, why not take a crack at this? I mean, so many retired numbers from great players, mixed in with 27 Hall of Fame players, it won’t be easy but, it should be fun to do.

Retired Jerseys:

  • #3 – Bronko Nagurski, FB – 1930-37, 1943
  • #5 – George McAfee, RB – 1940-41, 1945-’50
  • #7 – George ‘Papa Bear’ Halas, End/HC, Owner/Founder – 1920-1983
  • #28 – Willie Galimore, RB – 1957-’63
  • #34 – ‘Sweetness’ Walter Payton, RB – 1975-’87
  • #40 – Gale Sayers, RB – 1965-’71
  • #41 – Brian Piccolo, RB – 1966-’69
  • #42 – Sid Luckman, QB – 1939-’50
  • #51 – Dick Butkus, LB – 1965-’73
  • #56 – Bill Hewitt, DE – 1932-’36
  • #61 – Bill George, LB – 1952-’65
  • #66 – Clyde ‘Bulldog’ Turner, C/LB – 1940-’52
  • #77 – Red Grange, RB – 1925, 1929-’34

#1 GEORGE ‘PAPA BEAR’ HALAS, OWNER/FOUNDER/COACH/PLAYER

Now of course, the first spot would have to go to George ‘Papa Bear’ Halas, who was not only an Owner of the Chicago Staleys/Bears for 63 years, but he was also a player for 9 seasons and coached them for a total of 37 years. Interesting fact, Papa Bear was also a Major League Baseball player, but only for a short time, playing for the New York Yankees but only picked up 2 hits and batted .091, so, I think it is safe to say he got his success from the Chicago Bears and Professional Football. His #7 is a jersey that has been retired by this team, where he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 1963. He has a regular season record of 318 wins, 148 losses and 31 ties, 6-4 playoff record and an overall record of 324 wins, 152 losses and 31 ties. Also has the George Halas Trophy named after him, which is awarded to the winner of the NFC Championship game. The team also wears his initials on the sleeve of their jerseys, (GSH) George Stanley Halas.

#2 DICK BUTKUS, LINEBACKER – 

With the #2 spot on this Chicago Bears Mt. Rushmore, it has to go to Hall of Fame and #10 rated NFL Player of all time by NFL.com, Dick Butkus. Butkus who was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, attended the University of Illinois from 1962 to 1964 where he played both center and linebacker. He won All-American honors in back to back seasons in 1963-1964 and the Chicago Tribute Silver Football in ’63 as the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player. In 1964 he was the American Football Coaches Associations Player of the Year, where he finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy ballot, a rare thing for a player who played 2 different positions. He was drafted by both the Denver Broncos of the American Football League and the Chicago Bears of the NFL. He decided to sign with the Chicago Bears, who (pick from Pittsburgh Steelers) drafted him #3 overall in the 1st round, being in a draft class that also got the Chicago Bears, Gale Sayers.

Butkus is an 8x Pro Bowl selection, 6x First Team All-Pro selection, 2x Second Team-All Pro Selection, 2x NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Being a part of the NFL’s 1960’s All Decade, 1970’s and NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team’s, he became one of the most feared men in the game. Dick Butkus recorded over 1,000 tackles, 22 interceptions and 27 fumble recoveries, retired in 1973 due to multiple knee injuries. His #50, where he wore for the Fighting Illini at the University of Illinois and #51, the number he wore for the Chicago Bears, are both retired. He was inducted the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979 (first year of eligibility) and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983. Also another Chicago Bear who happens to have an award named after him, which is given to the top Linebackers on all levels of football.

#3 ‘SWEETNESS’ WALTER PAYTON, RUNNING BACK – 

Sweetness, a name that is familiar with almost every football fan in the world. When you think of the nickname (given to him in college), you think of the man who was born out of Columbia, Mississippi in 1954, Walter Payton. Payton established himself as one of the states best running prospects but received no offers from Southestern Conference colleges or universities. He committed to Kansas State University but decided to attend Jackson State University where his oldest brother and fellow Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers played.

Walter played with future NFL players like Jerome Barkum (New York Jets), Robert Brazile (Houston Oilers) who was drafted 2 picks after Walter was in the 1975 draft and Jackie Slater (Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams) who was drafted in 1976. During his time at Jackson State, the young hopeful running back smashed NCAA records, rushing for a 65 yard touchdown, set a then best SWAC scoring record with 7 touchdowns in 1 game. He ran for 3,600 yards on 598 attempts, averaged 6.0 a carry and scored 63 touchdowns in 4 years at Jackson State. He was selected #4 overall in the 1st round of the 1975 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears, where he went onto winning 1 Super Bowl (’85 Bears), 9 pro bowl selections, 6 first team all pro selections, 3 second team all pro selections, 1977 AP NFL, PFWA MVP, Offensive Player of the Year.

Named to the NFL’s 1970’s, ’80’s and 75th Anniversary All-Time/Decade teams, held the leagues records for most career rushing yards, touchdowns, carries, yards from scrimmage, all-purpose yards and his 8 career touchdown passes are a current NFL record for non-quarterbacks. He retired from the league in 1987 and was inducted into the 1993 Pro Football Hall of Fame, then in 1996 in the College Football Hall of Fame. The great Walter Payton later passed away on November 1st, 1999 from a rare liver disease. The funeral services for the one called ‘Sweetness’ were held at Soldier Field, which included friends, family and players from across the league, that came together to pay their last respects to possibly the best running back to ever play the game of Football. He rushed for 16,726 yards, 110 touchdowns on a career average of 4.4 yards per carry in his career.

Also has awards named after him, the Walter Payton Award, awarded to the most outstanding offensive player in Division 1 ball, the Walter Payton Trophy which is awarded to the most athletic high school football player in the country and then the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. An award that is given to player’s who volunteer and do charity work, also his performance on the field, was called the NFL Man of the Year award until Payton’s death in 1999. The winner receives $25,000 donation in his name to a charity of his choice, while the finalist (31) receive $1,000 to charities of their choice. Dallas Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten is a current Back to Back Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner. One player I wish I was able to watch play.

#4 THE FANS – 

Now, I know what you guys are thinking, what about Mike Ditka, Mike Singletary? While there are hundreds of players who could have possibly picked up this #4 spot on this Chicago Bears Mt. Rushmore, I felt as a fan myself, that it would only be right to include the Chicago Bears faithful. Chicago has been known to have the most passionate and dedicated fans in every sport in this country, if not, the world. That may be a long stretch, but you have teams like the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs, who aren’t really known to being Championship winning teams and yet, every game that comes across a fans schedule, ends up getting sold out.

From city to city, where ever this team plays, there is also a few sections of the home teams stadium that is filled with nothing but Navy Blue and Orange. Fans with their head gear, faces painted, even shirtless in almost below zero weather, with beer in hand, screaming and shouting at the field during the 1st and last whistle of the game. Seeing some of the best games in Professional Sports history, from a rivalry that is one of the oldest in sports, between the Chicago Cubs/St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Bears/Green Bay Packers, is when the passion is at full force. Win or lose, the fans of Chicago never fail to back their team, each child born, pet they happen to have, all end up wearing colors of their respected and loved teams.

No matter if you are a Chicago Black Hawks or Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Cubs or Chicago White Sox or Chicago Bulls fan, the one team we all have in common come football season is the Chicago Bears. Every fan from a different sport, who happens to be a fan of a friends rival team, all come together come pre-season and become 1. Either it being there at Soldier Field itself, tailgating with other fans who are attending the game, or having your own game day rituals at home, this team always brings this city and it’s fans together. Having fans across the country and even the globe, the Chicago Bears may not be America’s team, but they are one of the most loved teams in all of sports. I am proud to be a Chicago Bears fan, I may cheer once in awhile for other teams (unless they play my Bears), being a fan of the sport itself, but when it comes down too it, my heart will always belong to those ‘Monsters of the Midway’.

Now being Mothers Day, I would like to wish a Happy Mothers Day to those who happen to read this long article.

Especially the ‘Mothers’ I have in my life. My Mother (Sabrina), My Sister Jessica (soon to be Mother in November, her 1st), Crystal Lake, Jessie Miniel (Grandma), Diane Burton (Grandma), Gloria Gomez (Grandma), Adrianne Cox (Big Sister), Tammy Abell (2nd Mom). I love each and every one of these ladies with all my heart. Thank you for reading and I hope you have had a wonderful Mothers Day. Salute.

 

Tags: Chicago Bears Dick Butkus Gale Sayers George Halas National Football Conference National Football League\ Walter Payton

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