The 1985 Chicago Bears team will forever be known as one of the greatest teams in NFL history. Led by a legendary defense, a dangerous offense and a fantastic coaching staff, they were an incredibly well-rounded team.
Now just imagine how much better they could’ve been with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Believe it or not, the Bears came incredibly close to selecting Joe Montana with their third-round selection in 1979. In fact, many in the team’s front office completely expected him to be the pick. They had selected the Notre Dame alum in all of their simulation drafts, and even had a first-round grade on him. However, then-general manager Jim Finks got cold feet at the last second.
According to Bleacher Report, treasurer Jerry Vainisi put a magnet with Montana’s name on it in a group with the Bears’ picks in it. Finks, though, told Vainisi to put the magnet back. He expressed that the team already had a crowded quarterback depth chart, and that he didn’t like what they had at running back behind Walter Payton. In what may have been the worst decision in franchise history, Finks chose running back Willie McClendon out of Georgia over Montana.
McClendon had a four-year tenure with the Bears, in which he only ran for 369 yards on 94 carries with two touchdowns. After he left the team, he never played a down in the NFL again.
Montana, meanwhile, had a career that was anything but lackluster. He threw for a total of 40,551 yards with 273 touchdowns, a 63.2 completion percentage and a 92.3 QB rating. He went on to win four Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers, and became an eight-time Pro Bowler, a two-time MVP and a five-time All-Pro.
Sure, the Bears went on to draft Jim McMahon with the fifth overall pick in 1982, and he did well enough to lead Chicago to a Super Bowl victory. But could you imagine an offense led by Walter Payton - whom many believe to be the greatest running back of all time - and Joe Montana - whom many believe to be the greatest quarterback of all time? Throw in a great coaching staff, a great offensive line, and arguably the greatest defense in NFL history, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success.
Although the Bears did win a Super Bowl with McMahon at the helm, there’s no telling how many titles they’d win with Joe Cool under center.
Now it’s your turn. Which player do you wish the Bears hadn’t passed on drafting? Let us know in the comments below.