The Greatest Bears by Numbers (90-94)

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears pressures Shaun Hill #14 of the Detroit Lions during the NFL season opening game at Soldier Field on September 12 2010 in Chicago Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 19-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


We've arrived at the penultimate post in The Greatest Bears by Number series. The 90s are interesting bunch, as few players wore them until uniform standardization went into affect in 1973, so a lot more of the guys in the 90s played in the '80s and '90s with a few exceptions. This is going to be an all-defensive group, as the numbers are only available to linebackers and defensive lineman. We all know that the Bears have a rich history at these positions so let's see who made the cut.

90 - Al Harris, DE (1979-84, 86-87): Harris played nine seasons with the Bears, it would have been ten but he sat out the entire 1985 season looking for a new contract. Oops. Harris missed out on being a part of that historic team. He returned the next year and eventually got a new contract as a free agent in 1989. However, in his time with the Bears he collected 18.5 sacks (while they were stats, he may have had more), eight fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Honorable Mention - Alonzo Spellman, DE (1992-97): Spellman's time with the Bears was marred by his erratic behavior caused by his refusal to deal with his bipolar disorder with traditional medicine, choosing instead alcohol and illegal drugs. I am not going to get into that stuff, nor make jokes about a serious mental disorder but when he was on the field, he was good. He gathered 32 sacks and forced seven fumbles for the Bears.

91 - Tommie Harris, DT (2004-10): Yes, yes, I know, I know we all remember him for his weak sauce, his arguably premature contract extension and his big talk and bigger knee injuries but when he was healthy, he was great. Had Harris not been slowed by those knee issues he could have been one of the best of this era. During his three Pro-Bowl seasons he was one of the most dominant linemen in the league. He grabbed 28.5 sacks in his seven seasons in Chicago. I believe that time forgives all and that in a few more years he'll be a little more fondly remembered.

92 - Barry Minter, LB (1993-2000): The man who played MLB before Urlacher, but he was a bit more than that. He grabbed 11.5 sacks in his eight seasons to go with five interceptions and seven forced fumbles. Honorable Mention - Hunter Hillenmeyer, LB (2003-10): This was too close to call. Both Hillenmeyer and Minter played eight seasons for the Bears. Hillenmeyer had similar numbers as well; seven sacks, two interceptions and four forced fumbles. Hillenmeyer played in 101 games with 69 starts and Minter played in 111 games with 61 starts. Neither had a Pro-Bowl selection and I gave the edge to Minter because he had a worse supporting cast than Hillenmeyer. Sorry, Hillenmeyer, we still love ya, stay classy!

93 - Trace Armstrong, DE (1989-94): I got to say, I don't know much about Armstrong as he played before I got into football but I know I've heard an awful lot about him and he was probably one of the guys who became sort of the new face of the defense in the '90s when all the '85 Bears started retiring. Armstrong never made it to a Pro-Bowl but he collected 42 sacks, which is fifth in team history, and he had two seasons with at least 10. He forced seven fumbles and recovered all seven as well. Honorable Mention: Adewale Ogunleye, DE (2004-09): Wale never quite lived up to the billing he received when the Bears traded for him following his 15-sack season with Miami in '03 but he was more than serviceable during his time in Chicago, reaching 10 sacks once in '05. Wale his tied with Armstrong for fifth in Bears history with 42 sacks.

94 - Brendon Ayanbadejo, LB (2005-07): Ayanbadejo had a short stay with the Bears but he made a big impression. Coming over from Miami he was known for his special teams play and Dave Toub turned him into a two-time Pro-Bowler. During his time here he forced three fumbles and recovered five. Special teams tackles aren't widely available but he no doubt led the team in ST tackles at least twice. Honorable Mention - Keith Traylor, DT (2001-03): I couldn't pick a guy who played three seasons with the Bears in a career that saw him play for six teams but Traylor has to get recognized for at least this.

 

The rest of the series:

Numbers 00-4           Numbers 25-29     Numbers 50-54    Numbers 75-79

Numbers 5-9             Numbers 30-34     Numbers 55-59    Numbers 80-84

Numbers 10-14        Numbers 35-39      Numbers 60-64    Numbers 85-89

Numbers 15-19        Numbers 40-44      Numbers 65-69

Numbers 20-24        Numbers 45-49      Numbers 70-74

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