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30 Day Challenge: All Time Favorite Running Back

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Every day in the month of June we'll ask a different Chicago Bears related question to our readers. Make sure you guys participate the entire month so we can all get to know the WCG community a little better. Today, it’s all about the running back.

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Running back is a special position in Chicago. Half of the 14 numbers retired by the organization belonged to running backs. Some will say that any candidate for “favorite running back” should belong to that elite crowd. Gale Sayers, Brian Piccolo, and Walter Payton are all fine candidates.

However, the fact is that I was not watching professional football during their careers, at least not in any meaningful way. It would be dishonest for me to claim one of them as my favorite—I might as well invoke Red Grange or Bronco Nagurski. The truth of the matter is that Matt Forte is my not only my favorite Bears’ running back, but also one of my favorite professional athletes overall.

I remember watching preseason games in 2008 and seeing the way he just sort of popped off the screen. I predicted good things for him and was told by most to temper my expectations. He was, after all, from Tulane of all places. I then remember the drive against the Colts in his first professional game that consisted of a return, a Forte run, an incomplete pass, and then a Forte touchdown. Forte set a Bears’ record for running backs that game, which (as established) is not an easy feat.

Forte was never a power back. He is not, and was not, the kind of player who dragged three guys into the endzone. Instead, Forte’s style had an amazing versatility to it. He was able to find angles and apply just enough speed (without ever being an obvious burner) that he just sort of made yards appear. 2013 marked the first time he was not one of the top two receiving threats on the Bears, and it took Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall at their peaks to dethrone him.

For most of Forte’s time in Chicago, the team needed an offensive identity. It needed an anchor of stability amid the ups and downs of quarterback play and the wild inconsistencies of the coaching staff. Hester as a number one receiver? Sure. Trade away Greg Olsen? I guess. However, in the middle of all of this chaos was #22.

When asked how the Chicago Bears could replace Matt Forte, Jay Cutler had an answer: “You can’t.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Now it’s your turn. Who is your all-time favorite Chicago Bears running back?