There is no denying that the Chicago Bears are among the two or three most storied franchises in NFL history, simply by virtue of being a charter franchise and winning a helluva lot of games in their 80-plus year history.
The great thing about being a fan of such a storied franchise is that for one, fans should have an appreciation of that history and two, there usually is an identity that the team becomes known for over time.
For the Chicago Bears, two things come to mind when any football fan, but especially their own fans, think of: defense and running backs. The two most storied positions for the Chicago franchise are likely the middle linebacker position and the running back position.
There will be more on the linebacker position at some point later in the 30 Day Challenge, so stay tuned for that, but today we'll be discussing the running back position.
Day 8: Who is your all time favorite Chicago Bears running back?
The Bears have had an embarrassment of riches at the RB position over the years, from the first bona fide NFL star in Red Grange (who inspired my original user name here at WCG), to the first 1,000-yard RB in NFL history, Beattie Feathers, to Bronko Nagurski (one of the best names in NFL history), to Willie Gallimore, Rick Casares, Gale Sayers, and the incomparable Walter Payton.
I could go on because there is also Neal Anderson, George McAfee, Bill Osmanski, and most recently Matt Forte.
Now, just like all 30 Day Challenges, this isn't a debate, it's a matter of opinion, but who is your favorite Bears running back of all time?
I'm sure there will be plenty of people saying Sweetness, for all the right reasons of course. Payton is widely considered one of the best football players ever.
For me though, I was born during Payton's final season and while I've seen a ton of highlights and I absolutely love Payton, it's difficult for me to truly have an appreciation of the man.
As I've mention ad nauseam throughout the 30 Day Challenge, I came into my fandom in the early '00s around the time Anthony Thomas was plowing through the offensive line. Thomas was a short-lived star in Chicago and I really do like what Matt Forte's done throughout his time in Chicago. I would argue that Forte is probably the third best back in team history after Payton and Sayers.
However, my all time favorite is a guy who wasn't even drafted by the Bears: Thomas Jones. Jones was signed as a free agent in 2004 and, while he hadn't lived up to his first round draft status, he found his mojo in Chicago and in just three seasons became the fifth leading rusher in team history (now sixth with Forte shooting past him).
Jones was a quiet and reserved star, never one to seek out the spotlight and just did his job the right way. He never went to a Pro-Bowl in Chicago but he had a 1,300-yard and a 1,200-yard season and led the way for the Bears during their Super Bowl run in 2006.
Jones was unceremoniously dumped following the Super Bowl for Cedric Benson. Jones went on to run for 5,207 more yards and 34 more touchdowns with the Jets and Chiefs. Compared to Benson, Jones was a class act and much more popular among teammates. Honestly, that was likely one of the turning points for the fans against Jerry Angelo.
Who is your favorite Bears running back?
And since there is bound to be a ton of Sweetness/Sayers answers, I'll add a second one: Who is your favorite non-Hall of Fame Bears RB.