Last month, eight members of the Windy City Gridiron staff partook in a Chicago Bears historical fantasy draft. Through a snake draft format, we took turns building our own dream starting lineup consisting of only past and present Bears players.
The rules were fairly simple: you pick the player for their tenure with the Bears, not with other teams. That means that, when you draft someone like Orlando Pace (which nobody did), you get the Bears version of Orlando Pace, not the St. Louis Rams Pace who went to seven Pro Bowls. Also, you pick assuming that players from a long time ago would be able to translate their skills to the current game of football. Although a 210-pound guard like Dan Fortmann would get destroyed in today’s game, he was unstoppable in the 1930’s and 1940’s, so his ability at that level carries on.
Some of my colleagues have already to begun their attempts at persuading you that their team is the best.
Truth is, there really is no team in this hypothetical draft that is better than my squad, the Jaywalkers. Why is that, you might ask? Well, it’s quite simple, really.
The two most important positions in football are quarterback and edge rusher. If you want to be a legitimate threat, then it’s almost a rule of thumb that you must have a guy who can throw the ball well, and a guy who can rush the guy who throws the ball well.
I have the best of both in Bears history.
The rest of my team consists of Pro Bowlers, All-Pros, and franchise leaders at nearly every position. I can say with pride that there is no glaring weakness on my roster, and I will throw hands with anyone who tries to persuade me otherwise.
Let’s take a position-by-position breakdown of why the Jaywalkers are far and away the best fantasy team in this draft.
Quarterback: Jay Cutler
You can scream the name “Sid Luckman” until the cows come home, but that’s not going to change the fact that Jay Christopher Cutler is indubitably the best quarterback in Chicago Bears history. After all, he holds nearly every record in the book.
Cutler has the highest career totals in franchise history in the following categories:
- Passing yards
- Passing completions
- Passing attempts
- Passing touchdowns
- Completion percentage
- Quarterback rating
- 300-yard passing games
- Fourth-quarter comebacks
He doesn’t even lead the Bears in all-time interceptions. That honor goes to Luckman, who threw 1,527 fewer passes than Smokin’ Jay, yet 23 more interceptions. Zoinks. There goes that “Cutler throws too many interceptions to be the Bears’ best quarterback” narrative.
Cutler is also the most physically gifted quarterback in Bears history. Equipped with his rocket arm, his toughness, and his underrated athletic ability, the Santa Claus Slinger (I don’t think anybody has ever called him that. This is why I don’t have friends) stands head-and-shoulders above his competition. The only quarterback that was drafted who can truly compare to him from a physical standpoint is Mitchell Trubisky, and he still has a long way to go before he can even be thought about as one of the franchise’s greatest signal-callers.
Cutler tended to struggle early in his Bears career, but he was playing behind a terrible offensive line and was throwing to glorified backups. With a well-rounded team around him - on both sides of the ball, mind you - and one of the best groups of offensive weapons in the draft, that potential for disaster is greatly minimized.
Plus, you’re not going to win games against the greatest Bears defensive players of all time with someone like Jim Miller as your quarterback (sorry, Jeff. And sorry to you too, Jim. You’re a good announcer).
If you don’t have a good quarterback, then your odds of winning meaningful games are extremely slim. Cutler is the greatest in Bears history. I have him. Other teams don’t. Case closed.
Running Backs: Willie Galimore, Beattie Feathers
My running back group has better value than the clearance rack at Walmart. After the likes of Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, and Matt Forte predictably went very early in the draft, I decided to wait a little bit to pick a running back. Knowing that there are many great running backs in Bears history, I was confident that I could snag a star before Round 10. Unsurprisingly enough, I was right.
Willie Galimore was one of the most electric athletes of his day. The Florida A&M alum possessed incredible straight-line and sideline-to-sideline speed, and he had the strength to trample defenders if necessary. He was a consistent fixture in the NFL’s top 10 in rushing yards at a time where yardage was hard to come by. A two-time All-Pro, Galimore’s career was tragically cut short after he was killed in a car crash at just 29 years old. Even though he likely had more in the tank when he passed away, his body of work is impressive enough for him to have left a lasting impact on the game.
My final pick, Beattie Feathers, was another fantastic value pick. While four of my colleagues were selecting bad punters in the final round, I added the first player to ever rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. Feathers led the NFL in rushing yards in 1934 with 1,004 yards, a whole 199 yards more than the second place finisher. He also tied for the most rushing touchdowns in the league that year. He ended that season with 8.4 yards per carry, which is pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Having such an electric tandem in the backfield is going to cause fits for any defense. The talent at running back will allow for a handful of split back sets to be called each game, which helps give my team some schematic versatility. Have fun planning for that.
Wide Receivers: Alshon Jeffery, Willie Gault, Bernard Berrian
We’ve seen what happens when Jay Cutler doesn’t have weapons. With that in mind, I put an emphasis on the wide receiver position. The talent at the position is admittedly pretty thin near the top, so I decided to grab Alshon Jeffery early, as he’s easily one of the most talented receivers in franchise history.
Jeffery’s 89 receptions, 1,421 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 2013 (just his second season, by the way) was one of the greatest breakout seasons for a wide receiver in recent memory. He followed that season up with 85 receptions, 1,133 receiving yards and touchdowns in 2014. While his 2015 and 2016 campaigns weren’t as great due to injuries, they were still very good seasons - and fantastic seasons by Chicago’s standards at his position. He’s one of the few receivers in franchise history that has ever been considered on of the league’s best at his position, and he serves as a dangerous No. 1 receiver for my Jaywalkers.
Willie Gault is one of the fastest players in NFL history. A world record-holding track-and-field athlete, he was a fantastic deep ball threat for the Bears in the 1980’s: he averaged 19.8 yards per catch in his time in Chicago. Although they didn’t use him as a kick returner as much as they probably should have, he put up good numbers as a returner in 1983 and 1985. His speed makes him a nightmare for my opponents to cover on deep routes, as well as a threat on special teams.
I followed those two picks with another speedy wide out in Bernard Berrian. Along with Muhsin Muhammad, Berrian formed a formidable one-two punch at wide receiver during the Bears’ 2006 Super Bowl run. He stepped up in a big way in 2006 and 2007, totaling 122 catches, 1,726 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in that two-year span.
He, Jeffery, and Gault form a dangerous trio at the wide receiver position: one that would bring out the best in Cutler.
Tight End: Emery Moorehead
Outside of Mike Ditka, there aren’t any truly great tight ends in Bears history. Martellus Bennett was very good, but his stay with the team was short. Plus, he was a locker room nightmare who played a big role in the team’s collapse in 2014. Greg Olsen was also good, but he has been much better with the Carolina Panthers than he ever was with the Bears. That said, I didn’t put much emphasis on the tight end position. Despite my lack of interest towards the position, I was still able to snag the second-most productive player at the position in team history.
Emery Moorehead was a reliable receiving threat for the Bears throughout the 1980’s. During his eight years with the team, he caught 200 passes for 2,730 yards and caught 14 touchdowns. He was a very athletic tight end who was essentially another wide receiver; which makes sense, considering that he started off his NFL career as a receiver with the New York Giants in 1977.
Moorehead was the final piece of my puzzle to give Cutler some weapons in the passing game. Opposing defensive coordinators would dread having to plan for an offense with speedy weapons like Gault, Berrian, and Moorehead, a physical, big-bodied target like Jeffery, and a two-headed monster in the backfield like Galimore and Feathers.
Offensive Line: Bill Wightkin, Stan Jones, Larry Strickland, Kyle Long, James “Big Cat” Williams
Much like a lack of weapons, we’ve seen what Jay Cutler is like without a steady offensive line. Judging by my haul, it’s tough to imagine many of my colleagues’ defensive lines being able to penetrate this stone wall of an offensive line.
With 13 Pro Bowl appearances, seven All-Pro nominations, and one Hall of Fame nod on my offensive line, my group is a well-rounded and talented bunch that didn’t require a ton of early investment.
The biggest name on here is Stan Jones, who made seven Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams. The first player to use weightlifting to stay conditioned during the offseason, he was an absolute animal who destroyed defensive lines throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Opposite him at guard is Kyle Long, who has been the heart of the Bears’ offense for most of his tenure with the team. The three-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro is a well-rounded blocker who plays with great strength, athleticism, and toughness.
Larry Strickland started for six seasons at center and was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in one of them. That’s a good feat in itself, but it’s made even more impressive by the fact that I drafted him in Round 19 (talk about value). Big Cat Williams was a nine-year starter at offensive tackle for the Bears in the 1990’s and part of the 2000’s. A massive individual at 6’7” and 329 pounds, he was a one-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro who also blocked eight kicks during his tenure with the team. Lastly, Bill Wightkin was an eight-year starter who also played on the defensive line, but was a Pro Bowler in 1955 as an offensive tackle.
Every single one of my offensive linemen made it to the Pro Bowl at least once, and all but one of them were named All-Pros. Not too bad of a group, if I do say so myself.
Defensive Line: Richard Dent, Alan Page, Henry Melton, Adewale Ogunleye
If you want pass rush, you’ll love this defensive line.
Richard Dent is arguably the greatest pass rusher in Bears history. Doug Atkins is definitely in the conversation, but it’s somewhat tough to say that he’s the best since sacks weren’t recorded when he played. Dent is the team’s all-time leading sack artist, and it isn’t remotely close. He had 124.5 sacks in 12 seasons with the Bears, while the second-place sacker, Steve McMichael, is 32 sacks behind.
Dent reached double digits in sack totals eight times in Chicago, including 17.5 sacks in 1984 and a league-high 17 sacks in 1985. An intelligent player who made all of his teammates better, his presence would be felt all game long.
Alongside him off the edge is Adewale Ogunleye, who had 42 sacks in seven seasons with the Bears. He was an incredibly consistent force off the edge during the 2000’s, when the team’s defense was among the best in the league year in and year out. He played in at least 12 games in every season with Chicago, and he never had less than five sacks in a single season. His consistency and reliability provides a dangerous duo off the edge.
Alan Page is best known for his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings, where he made nine Pro Bowls. While he was a phenomenal Purple People Eater, he was a true Monster of the Midway in the last four seasons of his career. Page racked up 40 sacks in his four seasons in Chicago. A marathon runner in the offseason, he displayed fantastic athleticism for the defensive tackle position while still maintaining that nasty edge up the middle.
His partner-in-crime, Henry Melton, didn’t have as long of a career, but he had a very good stretch of seasons in his own right. He was a fantastic pass rusher who was more athletic than most defensive linemen in the NFL. He had seven sacks at the defensive tackle position in 2011, and he followed that up with six sacks in 2012. Melton was even named as one of the NFC’s starting defensive tackles in the 2013 Pro Bowl. Although he was never the same after a torn ACL in 2013 - he also left the team after the season - Melton was a dangerous player for the short amount of time that he played, and, since we’re getting the peak version of every player, that’s a steal in Round 17.
My defensive line has a combined 222 sacks in Bears uniforms, and that number would be much higher if I included Page’s sacks in Minnesota and Ogunleye’s sacks with the Miami Dolphins. There are a handful of very good offensive lines among my colleagues, but my defensive line has the ability to give every single one of them a run for their money.
Linebackers: Joe Fortunato, Mike Singletary, Sean Harris
They say that the middle linebacker position is like the quarterback of the defense. If that’s the case, then I got myself an incredible defensive quarterback.
Mike Singletary is, without a doubt, one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the game of football. An intelligent and intimidating force of nature, he was the heart and soul of the legendary 1985 Bears defense. Samurai Mike made it to 10 Pro Bowls and was named to nine All-Pro teams in his 12 seasons with the team, eight of which were first-team nominations. There are a lot of great running backs in Bears history, but there are a select number of linebackers who could genuinely strike fear into those players, and one of them is Singletary.
I gave Singletary a partner-in-crime by adding Joe Fortunato to my linebacker corps. Although he’s not a flashy name because he played a long time ago, he is easily in that upper echelon of legendary Bears linebackers. Fortunato played for the Bears for 12 seasons and was a force to be reckoned with each year. He was named to five Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams, and called defensive signals for Chicago when they won the 1963 NFL championship. A tackling machine, an intelligent player, and a bonafide leader, Fortunato gives my team a dangerous one-two punch at linebacker.
I waited a little bit longer to draft my third linebacker, but I still ended up with solid value in Round 23 in Sean Harris. A three-year starter for the Bears from 1998 to 2000, he tallied 237 total tackles in that span. He was a reliable tackler whose selection allowed me to fill several more dire needs while still finding a solid piece to complete my fantastic linebacker trio.
My first two linebacker picks combined for 15 Pro Bowls and 13 All-Pro nominations, while my third one was a consistent player who played well for a couple of years. There were a lot of legendary Bears linebackers to choose from, and I got away with a very good haul.
Cornerbacks: Tim Jennings, Mike Richardson
Now that I have my dangerous front-seven out of the way, it’s time to look at my secondary, which is one of the most well-rounded groups of this draft.
Tim Jennings was an top-level, ballhawking cornerback at the peak of his career. A two-time Pro Bowler and a one-time All-Pro, Jennings had a league-leading nine interceptions in 2012. He managed to bring one of them back for a touchdown, and he deflected 21 passes that year, as well. He followed that season up with another Pro Bowl year, getting four interceptions (two of which went for touchdowns), 13 pass deflections and two forced fumbles. Jennings, who ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the 2006 NFL Combine, would have the athleticism and ball skills to shut down even the fastest of receivers in Bears history.
Alongside him is L.A. Mike himself, Mike Richardson. Richardson was a reliable cornerback throughout the 1980’s for Chicago who had a knack for causing turnovers. In his six seasons with the Bears, he totaled 20 interceptions, including a team-high seven picks in 1986, as well as five interceptions as a rookie in 1983. He also recovered four fumbles in his career.
With two cornerbacks with top-notch ball skills at my disposal, teams would have major issues trying to throw the ball against my defense.
Safeties: Richie Petitbon, Adrian Amos
Looking for a reliable safety tandem that can drop back in coverage and stop the run at high levels? Look no further than my duo of Richie Petitbon and Adrian Amos.
Petitbon, who played for the Bears from 1959 to 1968, is second all-time in interceptions in franchise history. A four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro, he would have fit right in in today’s NFL. At 6’3” and 206 pounds with incredible ball skills, he was the prototypical safety before the prototypical safety was a thing. He had at least four interceptions in five of his seasons with the Bears, including six in 1962 and eight in 1963. Having a physical freak of nature like Petitbon in the secondary would further solidify my defense as an all-around dominant unit that can match up with any offense that any of my WCG colleagues drafted.
I opted to wait until later to pick a strong safety, simply because I saw much better value at other positions. Luckily for me, I was still able to secure a very good value pick in Adrian Amos.
Amos broke out as one of the league’s better run-defending safeties in 2017. He is a physical, linebacker-like safety who can consistently bring defenders to their knees. In three seasons with the Bears so far, he has 196 total tackles, three forced fumbles, 10 pass deflections, and a pick-six.
Amos and Petitbon would play off of each other’s strengths incredibly well. Amos would provide bone-crushing tackles, while Petitbon would provide elite ball skills. There’s not much more you can ask out of your safeties.
Specialists: Jeff Jaeger, Bob Parsons, Patrick Mannelly*
After the atrocities of last season, Bears fans likely know better than any other fan base that it’s incredibly tough to win close games with a bad kicker. Although I plan on brutally destroying every one of my opponents, I realized that I needed a top-notch kicker.
Jeff Jaeger has the second-highest field goal percentage in Bears history behind Robbie Gould, who was drafted a whopping nine rounds before Jaeger. In the gap between Rounds 13, where Gould went, and 22, where Jaeger went, I was able to build up my trenches, secure a ballhawking starting cornerback, add a reliable linebacker and safety, and surround Cutler with three talented weapons in the passing game. If doing all of that comes at the price of having to take the second-most accurate kicker in franchise history instead of the first, then that’s definitely a wait I’m willing to make.
Plus, some of the other kickers that my colleagues have are just flat out bad. Sam’s kicker, Mac Percival, had a 54.4 percent field goal completion rate. Robert’s kicker, Johnny Lujack, only kicked nine field goals with the Bears and missed five of them. Not exactly a flattering body of work. Worst of all, Jack’s kicker, George Blanda, only made 43.8 percent of the field goals he attempted. Even worse, Blanda attempted 201 field goals!
Needless to say, I’ll be in a much better position to win games late in the clutch than a majority of my colleagues. The only team owner who has a better kicker than I do is Jeff, and his offense doesn’t have enough star power to outscore my offense led by Kristin Cavallari’s hubby (again, sorry, Jeff. It’s nothing personal).
Bob Parsons was a 12-year starter at punter for the Bears, where he had the most punts in franchise history, the third-most punting yards, and the second-longest singular punt. Not a bad grab with the second-to-last pick in the draft.
*Mannelly is the honorary long snapper for every team.
Overall, my team has everything you’d look for in an NFL team. On offense, I have the best quarterback in Bears history, several explosive weapons, and a tenacious offensive line. On the other side of the ball, I have a ferocious defensive line, a dangerous linebacker group, and a secondary that will cause turnovers consistently. Plus, I don’t have a kicker with a terrible completion percentage, which is more than most of my colleagues can say.
Well, Bears fans, I’ve done my part to persuade you that my team is the best. Now it’s up to you guys to determine whose fantasy squad would reign supreme. I hope that, for the love of all things sacred, you’ll choose the Jaywalkers. Bear Down.