The Bears have a lot of great players in their history, as might be inferred from the fact that they have more players in the Hall of Fame than any other franchise. However, if given access to magic or a time machine and allowed to pluck one player out of history to place on the current Bears, I think there is a clear choice—the MVP of Super Bowl XX: Richard Dent.
When contemplating this question, I was tempted to address the obvious hole in the Bears’ secondary and simply pull a healthy Charles Tillman in at cornerback. However, I felt that was too cheap. I wasn’t sure whether or not I could consider him a true “historical” Bear, even if he happened to be an all-time great.
Likewise, I really wanted to find an excuse to summon Sid Luckman to solve the quarterback woes of this franchise. As a man who helped to reinvent the nature of offense in football, he would be an ideal choice to mentor Mitchell Trubisky. However, despite my fondness for him and admiration for what he did, I have concerns about his 6’, 197-pound frame in the modern NFL.
Finally, I gave up trying to patch a hole and just went looking for the kind of player who did and could once more help to define a franchise. I settled on Dent. His 6’5”, 265-pound frame would hold up just fine in today’s NFL, and while I would think he’d be best suited to playing OLB, I’d leave the final placement of to Mr. Dent and Vic Fangio. I insist, however, that any defense that can’t find a place for Richard Dent is a bad defense.
I don’t think statistics can do him justice, but I feel compelled to name a few. Across his first eleven years in Chicago, he recorded 124.5 sacks, forced 34 fumbles, and managed 8 interceptions. He had 10.5 sacks in playoffs for the Bears. He’s the team’s all-time sack leader, he’s behind only Peanut in forcing fumbles, and he’s sixth in overall tackles. He was a four-time first-team All-Pro. The man was not a force of nature—he was a monster that nature hid from in the hopes that he might wander off, distracted by quarterbacks to terrorize.
Is some of this my desire to see the look on Aaron Rodgers’ face when he looks across the field and sees Richard Dent coming for him? Yes, yes it is. Most of it, however, is a desire to see the rest of the NFL have that same reaction. A player like Dent, whose first and last double-digit sack seasons were ten years apart, is a generational talent. His presence on the 2017 Bears would immediately transform the team and give it legitimacy.
It’s worth noting that he was also a remarkably “clean” player (he had five accepted penalties against him in his career, per Pro Football Reference), and unlike some other historical players, his technique would survive (albeit with modification) the new focus on safety in the league. This was because his tackling was often times textbook.
Now it’s your turn. What former Bear would you choose to add to the current roster?