It’s time to find a new way of honoring the greats of Chicago Bears football.
With the December 13, 2013 retirement of Mike Ditka’s number 89, the Chicago Bears announced that due to roster-issues the team would not be retiring any more numbers (the Bears have the most retired numbers in the NFL). The Bears have an offseason roster of 90, and have 14 numbers retired. Since there are 99 available numbers, some players are doubled-up already in the spring.
While this makes sense, we as a football community still need a way of honoring and remembering all of the great players that we have had who now can never have their numbers retired... people like Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester, to name just a couple.
That’s why we should institute a Ring of Honor at Soldier Field.
There are many teams out there, both in the NFL as well as other pro sports and the NCAA, that have Rings of Honor.
I don’t know if they were the first, but I remember back when Dallas began their Ring in 1975. Since then, they have put up the names of their greatest players, coaches and management (not sure we need a GM in the ring, but hey, the Cowboys obviously wanted one there).
For starters, we would put up the “inaugural class” consisting of all Bears with retired numbers. In case you were wondering who these men are, here’s a list:
Bears Retired Numbers
|3||Bronko Nagurski, RB-T (1930-37; 43)|
|5||George McAfee, RB-DB (1940-41; 45-50)|
|7||George Halas, E (1920-29)|
|28||Willie Galimore, RB (1957-63)|
|34||Walter Payton, RB (1975-87)|
|40||Gale Sayers, RB (1965-71)|
|41||Brian Piccolo, RB (1966-69)|
|42||Sid Luckman, QB (1939-50)|
|51||Dick Butkus, LB (1965-73)|
|56||Bill Hewitt, E (1932-36)|
|61||Bill George, LB (1952-65)|
|66||Clyde "Bulldog" Turner, C-LB (1940-52)|
|77||Harold "Red" Grange, RB-DB (1925; 29-34)|
|89||Mike Ditka, TE (player 1961-66, coach 1982-92)|
As you can see, there are are a LOT of great players who should be honored who are not on that list. Only one player from the greatest football team to ever take the field, Walter Payton, has a retired jersey.
Year two, we pick the rest of the low hanging fruit by inducting all of the members of the Bears who are in the Hall of Fame as Chicago Bears (not including some those who made the Hall for play on other teams, but who also happened to be a Bear at some point in their career).
Year three we pick up those 1985 Bears greats that are not in the Hall but who were still all-time Bears like Jay Hilgenberg, Steve McMichael, Gary Fencik, etc.
Year four, we start picking up the living retired greats from recent years, people like Brian Urlacher, Devin Hester, Charles Tillman, Olin Kruetz, Lance Briggs, etc.
Then, down the road, we pick up guys like Robbie Gould as they retire.
It would cost the team virtually nothing to do, but it would mean a lot to the former players and the fans.
It’s Win-Win for everybody. Let’s get it done!