So. We've had one more week of the lockout. Football is, well, nonexistent. My thoughts are, well, rambling. I was perusing ideas for my new weekly posts. We had some good ones. Some of you may know this but for those who don’t, I coach high school track. We’re having what some would call a bit of a "down season". The weather’s been brutal. Always cold and even when it gets warm we have 86 mph winds. Not a stellar year for the girls. But we work hard and we never quit. The season’s almost over but watching my team got me to thinking about several recent (in my mind) Bear players who worked hard yet never really got the recognition they deserved. So join me after the jump for my 10 favorite unappreciated Bears in recent history.
1. Remember when we had no questions at safety? Mike Brown does. One hard hitting SOB who always seemed to make big plays. The dude was the true captain of the defense when Urlacher was HUGE. The man made our team better by his mere presence on the field.
2. He was drafted as one of the all time leading division I-AA running backs out of the University of New Hampshire (even before Angelo began scouting there!!) but the man would become a solid CB and one heck of a return man. Jerry Azumah was Devin Hester light with the skills to cover. Solid guy and a favorite of my Dad.
3. The man once played with his nose parallel to his face. Now he gives us some pretty decent pub in the media. Tom Waddle was an unsung hero taking way too many viscous shots in his too brief career. In his day he was one tough man.
4. Does unbelievably strange behavior get your attention? How about a guy who plays like he hates the opposition and he may even hate you? He might hate his own mother but he was always a captivating figure. Bryan Cox may not have been the greatest Bear in his time, but he was certainly the most entertaining.
5. Speaking of not having to worry about certain positions, how about a guy who consistently put pressure on the QB while being a heck of a locker room guy? He wasn't the most appreciated DT on this list, which makes hime even more appreciated by me. Jim Flannigan once had 11 sacks in a single season (1995). The man was just that. The man.
6. One guy who probably does "get his share" yet might not go down for being a "true great"? He was probably more recognized by the NFL for his charitable acts and more recognized by Bear fans for being a Notre Dame alum, but Chris Zorich was one hell of a Bear. Trust me when I say the man was the first to practice, and the last to the lockers (too busy signing autographs) A deserved fan favorite, I think he needs to be mentioned.
7. The man passed for 3,883 yards. He had 29 TD’s to 10 INT’s. And he’s also holds our record for career passer rating. No, it’s not Moses Moreno. Heck, it’s not even Cordell Stewart. It’s Erik Kramer. Completely unappreciated. Pretty solid.
8 & 9. Remember when the Bears had really good receivers? Remember when they had two 1000+ yardage per season guys on the SAME TEAM? In the SAME SEASON? Of course you don’t, because it has never happened. Except it DID! For one brilliant year Jeff Graham and Curtis Conway each eclipsed 1000 yds and Conway actually had 12 TDs. I’m not kidding, for one year our Bears actually had wide receivers (PLURAL) that we could be proud of. No. Really. Really really.
10. This one’s a personal favorite. I’m not going to go digging through his stats. If you want to, look them up. I’m going by personal feelings and gut instincts. This guy was really good. He was quietly a real trooper. He was a special player. He had a very solid career and when he left my team I felt real regret. I’ll always miss Bobby Engram. He’s my favorite under-appreciated guy, who’s yours?