BOURBONNAIS, IL - AUGUST 06: Chris Harris #46 of the Chicago Bears smiles as fans sing "Happy Birthday" as he walks to a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on August 6, 2011 in Bourbonnais, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Let's continue my series looking at the best Bears by jersey number. Last time out we looked at what could possibly the only case of three consecutive retired numbers in all of sports (I'm too lazy to confirm this though, haha). Those numbers were 40 (for Gale Sayers), 41 (Brian Piccolo) and 42 (Sid Luckman). This time however, we're shifting back to the defense for a couple players you've definitely heard of and throwing in a couple well-known offensive guys, as well as a couple "you've probably never heard of them" types. Follow me and check it out!
As I said in my last post, the 40s have given us some great players and this set is no different. Two of the best safeties this team has ever had and one of the best receivers. I had to pick between a bunch of nobodies to fill this set out, but I'm not sure that will be the case next time out, when we hit the 50s. I know some of you have been looking forward to seeing who makes the cut, and with out linebacking history, I'm excited too! But first, here's this post:
45 - Gary Fencik, S (1976-87): Fencik was a staple of the Bears' secondary for his entire career, all of which was spent in Chicago. Fencik twice made the Pro-Bowl and once was chosen as a first team All-Pro. Not bad for a player coming out of the 10th round who played at Yale! Fencik holds the franchise record for career interceptions with 38. Trivia for you, Fencik was originally drafted by the Dolphins but he was released and landed with the Bears. Anyway, Fencik made up one half of one of the best safety duos in NFL history, which leads us to....
46 - Doug Plank, S (1975-82): Plank and the aforementioned Fencik were known as the "Hitmen" in the late '70s and early '80s. Plank is probably best known as the man who spawned the name "46 Defense" for Buddy Ryan's legendary system. Plank was known for his hard hits and his career may have been cut short by his playing style. Plank never logged a Pro-Bowl or an All-Pro nod but he had 15 career INTs and is forever known and loved in Bears lore. Honorable Mention: Chris Harris, S (2005-06, 2010-present): I remember back in '05 when Chris Harris, was a rookie my dad watched a preseason game and said "Wow, that kid reminds me of Doug Plank with his hits! Do you think that's why the gave him number 46?" Haha. Harris is a fan favorite and if he plays a few more years he could become the better-known 46, but for now, he and his 10 INTs as a Bear will have to keep playing.
47 - Johnny Morris, FL (1958-67): Morris is the Bears' all-time leader in receiving yards with 5,059 yards. He was a one-time Pro-Bowler and a one-time first-team All-Pro. In 1964 he led the NFL with 93 receptions, 1,200 yards, 10 TDs and 85.7 yards per game. He ranks second in franchise history in catches, and fifth in TDs. Follow the link on his name to check out Ashley's Taking a Look in the Bears History Book post on Morris. Trivia on number 47: Current defensive backs coach Jon Hoke wore 47 for his one season in the NFL (with the Bears) in 1980.
48 - Allen Ellis, DB (1973-77): Not a number of star power guys here so here he is. Ellis was a one-time Pro-Bowler in '77. With the Bears he started 76 of 94 games and had 22 INTs. Honorable Mention: Beattie Feathers, RB (1934-37): He was the first person ever to rush for 1,000 yards in a season back in '34. He did it in 11 games. After that though he never topped 350 yards in a year again. He was a first-team All-Pro selection in '34.
49 - David Tate, DB (1988-92): Number 49 is just packed with nobodies. Tate played five years with the Bears and nabbed seven interceptions and started seven games.
The Rest of the Series: