Fourteen retired numbers, so many that the franchise had to quit doing so or they'd have issues with assigning numbers. Thirty-two Hall of Famers, the most of any professional football team.
Yes, the Chicago Bears are truly the most storied franchise and have had a (nearly) embarrassment of riches when it comes to great players. With so many great players, some very good ones are going to slip through the cracks and that's what the focus of today's 30 Day Challenge question is:
Day 29: Who is the most underrated Bear ever?
It's a tough question and certainly one of subjectivity. How underrated is defined can vary from person to person.
Can a player with multiple Pro-Bowl or All-Pro nods be considered? Is even just one of those two votes considered to be too much praise to be underrated? What if the player is a fan-favorite, garnering praise from the loyal masses, does that mean he gets his due even if it isn't on a national stage?
It is tough for me, I think two of the most-mentioned "underrated" players when it comes to Chicago are Neal Anderson and Matt Forte which makes them no longer underrated. For one thing, Anderson was voted to four straight Pro-Bowls and Forte is ranked second in franchise rushing yards and yards from scrimmage. Both were/are very good backs in the league for a long time, allowing them to get praise from media outlets. That alone, to me, makes them less underrated. Just because they get lost in the shuffle of a position that is historically great doesn't mean that they are automatically underrated.
Now Charles Tillman, he too has come around to getting the recognition he deserves as well. Five years ago I might have picked him for this question but he got a couple of Pro-Bowl nods and the Peanut Punch has become a part of the Bears lexicon. He gets the due he deserves, look no further than the comment section of yesterday's challenge question.
So for me I am going to go with Steve "Mongo" McMichael, a player I never really saw play. McMichael is very underrated. Yes he was twice a Pro-Bowler and twice an All-Pro but he is remembered more for his personality, his free spirit and bravado than his play. When he is remembered as a player it is behind the teammates of his great defenses: Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, Mike Singletary and even William Perry.
McMichael had a much bigger impact than Perry ever did for the Bears and Singletary is considered highly overrated by many fans and NFL experts. McMichael ranks second in team history in sacks, with 92.5, behind Dent and in front of Hampton. He ranks second in games player behind Patrick Mannelly and tied with Olin Kreutz. His Approximate Value, a metric created by Pro-Football-Reference.com to assign a number value to compare players, ranks sixth in team history, right between Hampton and Dent again.
Frankly, McMichael should get more Hall of Fame consideration than he does. I am sure he benefited from playing next to Hampton and Dent but even without Hampton next to him he was able to put up big numbers. I think McMichael is incredibly underrated.
Who is your pick?