All-Time Teams: Chicago Bears



Introduction

In my endless research of all things football and through my passion for the history of the NFL, I have decided to try and compile an All-Time Team for all 32 current NFL franchises. By All-Time Team I mean a starting roster compiled of the very best players to ever put on each franchise’s jersey. I will be starting in alphabetical order by current franchise location, so Arizona Cardinals all the way to The Washington Football Team, with the goal of releasing one to two All-Time teams a week for the duration of the current NFL season. This is meant to be fun and cause some debate and is based on my opinion after all my research and deep dives into each franchise’s history. Of course, not everyone will agree with who I chose, and I’d love to hear from anyone who agrees or disagrees, but first, let’s lay out some ground rules for how I came up with each team.


1. Each team roster will consist of the following:

Offense - 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 OT, 2 OG, 1 C

Defense - 2 DE, 2 DT, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S

Special Teams - 1 K, 1 P, 1 Returner

Coach - 1 Head Coach


2. I only considered an individual’s stats and contributions with each specific franchise. For example, Peyton Manning’s years with the Broncos were not considered when deciding on the starting QB of the Colts All-Time Team. As a result, the stats and awards listed with each individual player are only those that were achieved with that specific franchise.


3. A player cannot represent two teams as the starter. Players who spent time with more than one team were considered for the franchise they spent the most time with or had the most impact on. This rule led to some interesting scenarios that I will discuss in detail with each specific article to try and clear up any confusion.


4. A player’s stats and impact were considered in context with their era. This won’t simply be a listing of who passed or ran for the most yards in franchise history.


5. All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference and through the 2021 season. I will also be counting sacks from 1960, though the NFL doesn't officially count sacks until 1982.


6. Players in the "Honorable Mentions" section are ordered by year. It's not an indication of where I believe they rank in franchise history.


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!


Chicago Bears All-Time Team


Franchise Information

First Season: 1920

  1. Decatur Staleys (1920)

  2. Chicago Staleys (1921)

  3. Chicago Bears (1922-Present)

Record: 783-610-42 (56.21 W-L%)

Playoff Record: 17-20

Super Bowls Won: 1 (1985) (Lost in 2006)

Pre-Super Bowl Championships Won: 8 (1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946 and 1963) (Lost in 1934, 1937, 1942 and 1956)

Passing Leader: Jay Cutler 2,020/3,271 | 23,443 Yds | 154 TD

Rushing Leader: Walter Payton 3,383 Att | 16,726 Yds | 110 TD

Receiving Leader: Johnny Morris 356 Rec | 5,059 Yds | 31 TD

Sack Leader: Richard Dent 124.5 Sk

Interception Leader: Gary Fencik 38 Int

Scoring Leader: Robbie Gould 1,207 Points

Winningest Coach: George Halas 318-148-31


QB: Sid Luckman (1939-1950)

Record: 98-32-3 | 51.8 Cmp%| 14,686 Yds | 137 TD | 132 Int | 4 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp% 1941 (57.1%) | Led League in Yds/A 1943, 1946, 1947 (10.9, 8, 8.4) | Led League in Yds 1943, 1945, 1946 (2,194, 1,727, 1,826) | Led League in TD 1943, 1945, 1946 (28, 14, 17) | Led League in Yds/G 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946 (219.4, 145.4, 172.7, 166) | Led League in QB Rating 1941, 1943, 1946 (95.3, 107.5, 71) | 3x Pro-Bowl (40, 41, 42) | 5x All-Pro (41, 42, 43, 44, 47) | 1943 MVP | 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946 NFL Champion | 1942 NFL Championship Appearance | Hall of Fame All-1940s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1965


The Bears haven't had a true franchise quarterback in over 70 years. Not since the great Sid Luckman. His name gets lost sometimes when discussing the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but it's due more to the fact that he played over 70 years ago than it is due to his play on the field. He was one of the first great passers in NFL history. Luckman led the league in every major passing category multiple times during his 12 seasons in Chicago. His best statistical season came in 1943 where he led the league in yards, touchdowns, yards per attempt, yards per game and quarterback rating and was named league MVP. He guided the Bears to five championship appearances, winning four of them. At retirement, Luckman was number two all-time in completions, yards and touchdowns. It took over 60 years for his franchise records to be broken by Jay Cutler. He was named to the Hall of Fame All-1940s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Joey Sternaman (1922-1930) | Record: 74-33-17 | 20 Rush TD | 4 Rec TD | 2x All-Pro (24, 25)

  2. Keith Molesworth (1931-1937) | Record: 38-8-7 | 38.1 Cmp% | 1,486 Yds | 18 TD | 19 Int | 1,105 Rush Yds | 8 Rush TD | 1932 and 1933 NFL Champion | 1934 NFL Championship Appearance

  3. Berine Masterson (1934-1940) | Record: 38-16-3 | 38.1 Cmp% | 3,366 Yds | 34 TD | 38 Int | 6 Rush TD | Led League in TD 1937 (9) | 1x Pro-Bowl (40) | 1937 Championship Appearance

  4. Johnny Lujack (1948-1951) | Record: 35-13 | 50 Cmp% | 6,295 Yds | 41 TD | 54 Int | 742 Rush Yds | 21 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp 1949 (162) | Led League in Yds 1949 (2,658) | Led League in TD 1949 (23) | Led League in Yds/A 1949 (8.5) | Led League in Yds/G 1949 (221.5) | Led League in Rush TD 1950 (11) | 2x Pro-Bowl (50, 51) | 1x All-Pro (50)

  5. Ed Brown (1954-1961) | Record: 39-25-2 | 48.7 Cmp% | 9,698 Yds | 63 TD | 88 Int | 841 Rush Yds | 10 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp% 1956 (57.1%) | Led League in Yds/A | 1956 (9.9) | Led League in QB Rating 1956 (83.1) | 2x Pro-Bowl (55, 56) | 1956 Championship Appearance

  6. Billy Wade (1961-1966) | Record: 27-20-2 | 54.5 Cmp% | 9,958 Yds | 68 TD | 66 Int | 647 Rush Yds | 14 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp 1962 (225) | Led League in QB Rating 1961 (93.7) | 1x Pro-Bowl (63) | 1963 NFL Champion

  7. Jim McMahon (1982-1988) | Record: 46-15 | 57.8 Cmp% | 11,203 Yds | 67 TD | 56 Int | 1,284 Rush Yds | 15 Rush TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (85) | 1985 Super Bowl Champion

  8. Rex Grossman (2003-2008) | Record: 19-12 | 54.2 Cmp% | 6,164 Yds | 33 TD | 35 Int | 80 Rush Yds | 3 Rush TD | 2006 NFC Champion

  9. Jay Cutler (2009-2016) | Record 51-51 | 61.8 Cmp% | 23,443 Yds | 154 TD | 109 Int | 1,227 Rush Yds | 6 Rush TD


RB: Walter Payton (1975-1987)

4.4 Yds/A | 16,726 Yds | 110 TD | 492 Rec | 4,538 Rec Yds | 15 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 1977 (1,852) | Led League in TD 1977 (14) | Led League in Yds/A 1977 (5.5) | Led League Yds/G 1977 (132.3) | Led League YScm 1977, 1978 (2,121, 1,875) | Led League in RRTD 1977 (16) | 9x Pro-Bowl (76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 83, 84, 85, 86) | 5x All-Pro (76, 77, 80, 84, 85) | 1977 MVP | 1977 Offensive Player of the Year | 1977 Walter Payton Man of the Year | 1985 Bert Bell | Hall of Fame All-1970s Team | Hall of Fame All-1980s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1993


Walter Payton may be the greatest running back to ever live and no one in their right mind has him outside of their top three. Payton was one of the most powerful and versatile backs to ever play the game. He is currently number two in yards and five in touchdowns in NFL history and was number one in both at the time of his retirement. Payton went over 1,000 yards rushing in 10 of his 13 seasons in Chicago and had at least 10 touchdowns in five of them. His best season came in 1977 where he was named league MVP after rushing for 5.5 yards per carry, 1,852 yards, 14 touchdowns, and had 2,121 yards from scrimmage and 16 rushing and receiving touchdowns, all of which led the league. Payton was named to the Pro-Bowl nine times, All-Pro Team five times, both the Hall of Fame All-1970s and All-1980s Teams and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993. Only two other backs in NFL history (Brown and Sanders) are even in the discussion with Payton as the greatest running back of all time.

RB: Gale Sayers (1965-1971)

5.0 Yds/A | 4,956 Yds | 39 TD | 112 Rec | 1,307 Rec Yds | 9 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 1966, 1969 (1,231, 1,032) | Led League in Yds/A 1968 (6.2) | Led League in Yds/G 1966, 1968 and 1969 (87.9, 95, 73.7) | Led League in YScm 1966 (1,678) | 4x Pro-Bowl (65, 66, 67, 69) | 5x All-Pro (65, 66, 67, 68, 69) | 1965 Offensive Rookie of the Year | Hall of Fame All-1960s | Hall of Fame Class 1977


Gale Sayers is one of the biggest "what ifs" in NFL history. From 1965-1969, Sayers was one of the greatest all-purpose backs the league had ever seen. If it wasn't for a career ending injury, he might have ended up on everyone's Mount Rushmore of running backs. Those five seasons were still enough to land Gale Sayers in the Hall of Fame in 1977. He led the league in rushing twice and yards from scrimmage once. Three different seasons he averaged over five yards per attempt, including an absurd 6.2 in 1968. Sayers was also one of the best returners in NFL history, but we'll get to that later. Everyone knows Sayers amazing six touchdown game where he scored four on the ground, one through the air and one on a return. It's a shame we weren't able to see Sayers have a full career. Four other running backs for the Bears are in the Hall of Fame, Paddy Driscoll, Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski and George McAfee.



Honorable Mentions

  1. Paddy Driscoll (1920, 1926-1929) | 12 TD | 1 Rec TD | 3x All-Pro (20, 26, 27) | Hall of Fame All-1920s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1965

  2. Red Grange (1925, 1929-1934) | 3.3 Yds/A | 569 Yds | 20 TD | 16 Rec | 288 Rec Yds | 10 Rec TD | Led League in RRTD 1932 (7) | 2x All-Pro (30, 31) | Hall of Fame All-1920s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1963

  3. Bronko Naguraski (1930-1937, 1943) | 4.4 Yds/A | 2,778 Yds | 25 TD | 11 Rec | 134 Rec Yds | 4x All-Pro (32, 33, 34, 36) | Hall of Fame All-1930s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1963

  4. Jack Manders (1933-1940) | 3.5 Yds/A | 1,586 Yds | 11 TD | 15 Rec | 260 Rec Yds | 6 Rec TD | Led League in Yds/Tch 1937 (6) | 2x All-Pro (34, 37)

  5. Beattie Feathers (1934-1937) | 5.5 Yds/A | 1,846 Yds | 14 TD | 11 Rec | 197 Rec Yds | 1 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 1934 (1,004) | Led League in TD 1934 (8) | Led League in Yds/A 1934 (8.4) | Led League in Yds/G 1934 (91.3) | Led League in Yds/Rec 1934 (9.4) | Led League in YScm 1934 (1,178) | Led League in RRTD 1934 (9) | 1x All-Pro (34) | Hall of Fame All-1930s

  6. Ray Nolting (1936-1943) | 4.5 Yds/A | 2,285 Yds | 10 TD | 30 Rec | 508 Rec Yds | 3 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (40, 41)

  7. Gary Famiglietti (1938-1945) | 3.8 Yds/A | 1,927 Yds | 20 TD | 11 Rec | 170 Rec Yds | 1 Rec TD | Led League in TD 1942 (8) | 3x Pro-Bowl (40, 41, 42)

  8. Bill Osmanski (1939-1947) | 4.8 Yds/A | 1,753 Yds | 20 TD | 12 Rec | 170 Rec Yds | 1 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 1939 (699) | Led League in Yds/G 1939 (69.9) | Led League in Yds/A 1941 (5.3) | 3x Pro-Bowl (39, 40, 41) | 1x All-Pro (39) | Hall of Fame All-1940s Team

  9. Ray McLean (1940-1947) | 5.4 Yds/A | 412 Yds | 5 TD | 103 Rec | 2,232 Rec Yds | 21 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (40,41)

  10. George McAfee (1940-1950) | 4.9 Yds/A | 1,685 Yds | 21 TD | 85 Rec | 1,359 Rec Yds | 11 Rec TD | Led League Yds/Rec 1941 (8.6) | 1x Pro-Bowl (41) | 1x All-Pro (41) | Hall of Fame All-1940s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1966

  11. Hugh Gallarneau (1941-1942, 1945-1947) | 4.1 Yds/A | 1,421 Yds | 26 TD | 51 Rec | 794 Rec Yds | 7 Rec TD | Led League in TD 1941 (8) | 1x Pro-Bowl (41)

  12. John Hoffman (1949-1956) | 4.3 Yds/A | 1,366 Yds | 7 TD | 136 Rec | 1,870 Rec Yds | 9 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (53, 55)

  13. Rick Casares (1955-1964) | 4.1 Yds/A | 5,657 Yds | 49 TD | 182 Rec | 1,538 Rec Yds | 10 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 1956 (1,126) | Led League in TD 1956 (12) | Led League in Yds/A 1955 (5.4) | Led League in Yds/G 1956 (93.8) | Led League in RRTD 1956 (14) | 5x Pro-Bowl (55, 56, 57, 58, 59) | 1x All-Pro (56)

  14. Willie Galimore (1957-1963) | 4.5 Yds/A | 2,985 Yds | 26 TD | 87 Rec | 1,201 Rec Yds | 10 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (58)

  15. Matt Shuey (1980-1989) | 3.6 Yds/A | 2,946 Yds | 20 TD | 260 Rec | 2,113 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD

  16. Neal Anderson (1986-1993) | 4.1 Yds/A | 6,166 Yds | 51 TD | 302 Rec | 2,763 Rec Yds | 20 Rec TD | 4x Pro-Bowl (88, 89, 90, 91)

  17. Matt Forte (2008-2015) | 4.2 Yds/A | 8,602 Yds | 45 TD | 487 Rec | 4,116 Rec Yds | 19 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (11, 13)