The Bears have a long history of great defensive ends, so how do you pick just one?
This is true of any position when your team is the oldest in professional football but the Bears have a rich defensive history and DL is no different.
It’s difficult not to break down the players by era though.
For me one of my favorites from the 1940s and 1950s is Ed Sprinkle.
Sprinkle was nicknamed the “Meanest Man in Pro Football” by George Halas and although he played before sacks were a stat, he gave it his all and was feared by opponents.
From the book “What Bears They Were” by Richard Whittingham
A lot said I played dirty. That’s just not true. Mean maybe, but not dirty...We were meaner, I think in the forties and fifties. There were fewer positions and we fought harder to keep them. Some of us could be characterized, I guess, as a little overaggressive maybe. I know I was as aggressive as any football player who walked on the field. If I had the opportunity to hit someone, I hit him and I hit him just as hard as I could. That’s the nature of the game.
Now I obviously never saw Sprinkle play but the stories I’ve read and the few highlights I’ve seen have made me a big fan.
In the more modern times, obviously everyone knows about Richard Dent and Dan Hampton.
Hampton was a Pro-Bowler at both DT and DE, which is extremely rare. Hampton and Dent were part of one of the undisputed best defenses in history. Dent is the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks and both are in the Hall of Fame.
Now those two also played just a shade before my time. I was born in the ‘80s but don’t remember much football before the late-90s and didn’t really get into football until 2001.
Now then, if we’re going strictly by players I have seen play in their era, I would say my favorite defensive lineman is Alex Brown.
Brown was never a star or a stud, in fact he never had more than seven sacks in a season but I always just loved the way he played. He was solid against the run and had one of the quickest jumps off the line of scrimmage that I can remember seeing.
Brown finished his career fourth all-time in Bears history with 43.5 sacks. On top of that he added five interceptions, 16 forced fumbles and 11 fumble recoveries.
Who is your favorite defensive linemen ever?