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The 1990s: A Bear decade not worth looking at. (So let's take a look)

As we look back on the 2000's, they were at best, an average decade. The team went 81-79, with three playoff appearances, and one Super Bowl shot. 

It's almost, but not quite, enough to make you forget about the 90s. A decade where the team also had three playoff appearances, but no Super Bowls. A few important highlights, and a whole lot of dreck.

For those inclined, jump into the Windy City Wayback Machine and let's take a look at a decade most of would rather forget.

1990:  11-5
1991:  11-5
1992:  5-11
1993:  7-9
1994:  9-7
1995:  9-7
1996:  7-9
1997:  4-12
1998:  4-12
1999:  6-10

Those are some pretty ugly records. 73-87 for the decade, the team was fairly unspectacular. When in the playoffs (1990, 1991, 1994), the Bears won 2 wildcard games, but failed to advance past the divisional games. 

But here's the things I'd really like to highlight--milestones in the Bears history from the 90s, and some key personnel from the decade.

The Firing of Mike Ditka

After the 1992 5-11 season, the Bears and Ditka parted ways. Ditka had led the team to 6 central titles and three NFC championship games, but the team decided to move in a different direction. This ultimately led to the succession of stable, unsuccessful coaches that continues to this day. Following Mike Ditka was Dave Wannstedt, and after that, Dick Jauron, neither coach having a winning record coming away from the team.

In the book "Chicago Bears: An Illustrated History", Bears lineman Keith Van Horne says:

"When [coach Dave] Wannstedt was here--I played with him my last year--he just thought it [playing Green Bay] was another game. To me, it was like, 'You don't get it.' That just upset me."

Which leads us into...

The Rise of Brett Favre

Quite possibly the most polarizing Bears opponent ever, Bears fans seem to fall in one of two camps about Favre. There's the camp that respects him as a player and his accomplishments and abilities, and there's the group that hates him with every single fiber of their being. I belong to the latter.

But there's no denying that he owned the Bears in the 90s. His record against the Bears during the decade is pretty sickening. After he arrived, from 1992 to 1999, he won 13 of 16 games against the Bears. This included a 10 game streak from 1994 to 1998.

The play of Favre, and the way that the Packers supported him with quality teams throughout, helped to show the deficiencies of the Chicago organization.

Some Great Players. Some Terrible players.

The 90s saw the end of an era, and the beginning of another. Here are some names to jog your memory.

Mike Singletary
Jim Harbaugh
Neal Anderson
Steve McMichael
Keith Van Horne
Tom Waddle
Mark Carrier
Neal Anderson
Kevin Butler
Cade McNown
Alonzo Spellman
Todd Sauerbrun
Rashaan Salaam

Debate what you will, but there were some great players and spectacular busts on some woefully terrible teams.

Finally, a quick moment to address the thing that hit Bears fans the hardest in the 90s.

The Death of Walter Payton

Walter Payton was not only a legend to the Chicago Bears and their fans, but to the NFL in general. In 1998 it was announced that Payton was battling a terrible, rare liver disease.

Never one for the public eye, Payton gradually reduced his public appearances, and often his meetings with his friends and teammates. From the same book mentioned above, Mike Singletary is said to have seen him the day he passed:

"He was lying there, no tense look on his face, just peace. It's difficult to explain, just peace."

Payton was the quiet warrior. His teammates, and his fans, loved him. It wasn't until after he passed that his autobiography, Never Die Easy, was published.  In it, Peyton said:

"If you ask me how I want to be remembered, it is as a winner."

That's how we will always remember you, Mr. Payton. May you continue to rest in peace.

What are your thoughts on the 1990s?