Last night in Ottawa, rookie Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs had a remarkable and history making opener when he scored 4 goals in the Leafs 5-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Yeah, I’m talking a little hockey here...
His sensational debut got me wondering how Chicago Bears’ rookies have fared in their initial games. I couldn’t think of any historic introductions to the Chicago sports scene, so I took to Pro Football Reference* to try and find a few noteworthy Bear rookie debuts.
I’ll run down a few I came across and if you have any stored away in your memory banks, be sure to share them in the comment section.
*PFR only has individual player game logs back to 1960
George McAfee - 9/22/1940 - While the entire box score isn’t on PFR, I did manage to pull some awesome stats form the scoring summary. In Chicago’s opening day 41-10 win against the Green Bay Packers, George McAfee opened their scoring with a 93 yard kickoff return for a TD. He threw an 8 yard TD pass to Ken Kavanaugh in the 3rd and he added a 9 yard run for a score in the 4th quarter. He was also part of a defense that had 7 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries in Green Bay that day.
You can see why he was known as “One Play” McAfee.
Ken Kavanaugh - 9/22/1940 - Yep, in the same game, Kavanaugh had another TD reception, this time a 39 yarder from Bob Snyder.
Devin Hester - 9/10/2006 - In the season opener against the rival Packers, Devin Hester took a punt back 84 yards in the opening minute of the 4th quarter to put the Pack out of their misery in a 26-0 shutout. He totaled 5 punt returns for 104 yards on the day.
Matt Forte - 9/7/2008 - Against the Indianapolis Colts rookie 2nd round draft pick Matt Forte racked up 123 yards on 23 carries (5.4ypc) with a TD, and he caught 3 balls for 18 yards in Chicago’s 29-13 victory.
Alshon Jeffery - 9/9/2012 - Alshon battled through a few injuries his rookie season, but on the opening 41-21 win against the Colts, he flashed his big play potential with 3 catches for 80 yards including a 42 yard TD from Jay Cutler.
Kyle Long - 9/8/2013 - I actually graded Kyle Long’s first game as a pro (+56/-5 - 91.8%), and while I thought he had a very good game, he makes this list because of this picture.
This picture cemented Long into Bears’ fans hearts as a guy opposing defenses did not want to mess with.
It proved a bit harder to dig up defensive stats, but Alonzo Spellman had a sack in his 1st game ever (9/6/1992). In the Hester game I mentioned above, rookie Mark Anderson had a sack and rookie Danieal Manning had an interception.
Do you guys recall any other rookie debuts from Bears?