The Greatest Bears by Numbers (95-99)

This is it, the last in my long-running "Greatest Bears by Numbers" series. It's taken 20 posts and just over two months to get it all done but I've finally reached the end. I know from the comments, as well as emails I have received that not everyone has been pleased with my selections but I have a feeling these last five will be pretty agreeable. Especially since two of them are in the Hall of Fame and are some of the best at their positions, ever. Anyway, after this my posts will focus more on the current season and such issues, however next offseason I might consider a "Worst Bears by Number" but that would take a lot more research, so we'll see.

95 - Richard Dent, DE (1983-93, '95): The newest Bears member of the Hall of Fame was a slam dunk and his story is pretty incredible on it's own. He had very severe dental problems that made it hard for him to eat, so after the Bears drafted him they sent him to a dentist and then he bulked up. He is the franchise leader in sacks with 124.5 and also had eight interceptions, 34 forced fumbles (also first in team history) and 13 fumble recoveries. He was a four-time Pro-Bowler and a one-time First-Team All-Pro. In '85 he led the league in sacks with 17.5 and was Super Bowl MVP.

96 - Alex Brown, DE (2002-09): Brown was a regular contributor on the team and one of the first of Jerry Angelo's famous "late-round steals." Brown was a favorite among Bears fans, a guy who played hard and loved what he did. Brown ranks fourth in team history with 43.5 sacks. His 16 forced fumbles rank third in team history. Not super-flashy or a big name but he was just a consistent player, especially in the run game. Many feel he was somewhat under-appreciated even by the coaching staff, evidenced by the famous benching and then un-benching for Mark Anderson in '07.

97 - Chris Zorich, DT (1991-97): Zorich was a Golden Domer who came to the Bears in the second round, Ditka wanted him in the first round but was over-ruled for Stan Thomas. Of course Ditka was right. Zorich collected 15.5 sacks, forced three fumbles and recovered six fumbles. Honorable Mention - Mark Anderson, DE (2006-10): I know you're thinking 'Why Anderson?' well his 21.5 sacks rank him 16th in team history, higher than Zorich (who ranks 24th) but Anderson was a one-trick pony who rode his situational skills to a rookie-record 12 sacks but collected only 9.5 after that season.

98 - Bryan Robinson, DE/DT (1998-2003): Robinson had a long career other than with the Bears, but he was with the Bears the longest and collected 16.5 sacks, tying him for 20th in team history. He was a solid player on those very mediocre Bears teams of the '90s.

99 - Dan Hampton, DT (1979-90): Hampton played a long, long career for the Bears that ended in Canton. Hampton's 57 sacks rank him third in team history and he added 10 fumble recoveries. Hampton was a four-time Pro-Bowler and one-time First-Team All-Pro. He started 151 of the 157 games he played for the Bears. I read a book Ashley got me for my birthday last year called "What Bears They Were" in it Hampton talks about how after some injuries slowed his physical abilities relatively early in his career he focused on becoming a student of the game and working on the mental game and fine-tuning little details and that that was what made him great. Honorable Mention - Jim Flanigan, DT (1994-2000): Flanigan played seven years in Chicago and collected 40.5 sacks, good for eighth in team history, it is also third in team history among DTs after McMichael and Hampton. He also had four forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries.

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 90-94

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

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