My team is full of All-Time great Chicago Bears, just like the seven other teams, but my team is the strongest. My team is the fiercest. And there’s no question in my mind that my team is the best.
My team is the Chicago Grizzlies.
- By now you all know the basic rules to our All-Bears Historical Fantasy Draft. We each picked a team consisting of 23 players. Eleven on offense, eleven on defense, and one wildcard player. We all also get the services of long snapper extraordinaire Patrick Mannelly, making him the all-time, All-Time long snapper.
- Each player’s skill level will be transported to the modern age, so, for example, a Hall Of Fame offensive lineman from the 1940s, while smaller than the modern o-linemen, will still be a Hall Of Famer.
- We also only get the player’s ability as he had it while playing in Chicago. So if someone were to tout the Hall of Fame credentials of Alan Page, keep in mind that his time in Chicago (0 Pro Bowls) wasn’t the same as his time in Minnesota (9 Pro Bowls).
I stuck with a best player available philosophy as much as I could, with my first deviance being at quarterback because I feared a run on the position. My team has the most pro bowlers and the most Hall Of Famers, so when it comes time to vote on a winning team, you really have no other choice but to vote for mine.
Chicago Grizzlies Offense
QB - Jim McMahon (3rd Round) - McMahon was a Pro Bowler during the Bears’ 1985 run to the Super Bowl, but while his skill set was outstanding and mostly underutilized in his offense, his intangibles overshadowed what he could do with a football. #leadership
RB - Gale Sayers (2nd Round) - Sayers is one of the most electrifying players in the history of the game. He was a five-time first team All-Pro and a Hall Of Famer.
FB - Rick Casares (8th Round) - This 5-time Pro Bowler was a 6’2”, 226 pound bruiser in the 50s. His 5,657 yards rushing is fourth all time in Bears’ history.
WR - Harlon Hill (10th round) - The 3-time Pro Bowler is second all time in Bears’ history in receiving yards. He was one of the fastest players of his era.
WR - George Wilson (20th Round) - Wilson made three Pro Bowls in Chicago, and he helped them to four Championships. He also made this punishing block.
TE - Martellus Bennett (15th Round) - When Bennett was on and focused, he was one of the best tight ends in the game. He caught 208 balls during his three years with the Bears, including 90 in his Pro Bowl season of 2014.
LT - Joe Stydahar (4th Round) - “Jumbo Joe” was a four-time first-team All Pro and Hall of Famer. He also holds the distinction of being the first ever draft pick by the Bears in the first NFL Draft (1936).
LG - George Musso (5th Round) - Musso gives me a Hall of Fame left side of my o-line. He helped the Bears to four titles, and he was named to three Pro Bowls. At 270 pounds, “Moose” was one of the biggest players of his day, and he was the first to ever make All-Pro at two different positions, tackle and guard, but he also played nose tackle during his 12 years with the Bears.
C - Hugh Blacklock (13th Round) - This 1920 Decatur Staleys All Pro spent most of his career at tackle, but he also played guard and center during his career. He was a star running back in high school and college, so you know his athleticism was off the charts for his era.
RG - Ray Bray (9th Round) - In 1987, “Muscles” was voted the best Bears guard of all time by the Chicago Tribune. He made Pro Bowls in 1940 and 1941, then again ten years later in 1950 and 1951.
RT - Kline Gilbert (21st Round) - He made the Pro Bowl in his last season after starting 60 of 60 career games in Chicago. Hall Of Fame offensive lineman Bruiser Kinard, called Gilbert the “best blocking tackle in football.”
My offense is balanced, with All Pros and Pro Bowlers all along my front five. We will be able to run the ball at will, and hit the play action deep to speedy Harlon Hill when defenses try to creep up and take away Gale Sayers. My wildcard player will add a bit of spice to my O where ever he line sup.
Chicago Grizzlies Special Teams
P - Ed Brown (25th Round) - Getting a 2-time Pro Bowler with my final pick in the draft was unexpected, but Brown fits in perfectly with my team. He’s 5th all time in Chicago history in both punts and punting yards, but he’s also 7th all time in passing yards, and 6th in passing TDs.
K - Paul Edinger (24th Round) - Ediginger has the 4th most field goals made in franchise history, and his 75.3 FG% is 3rd all time.
Wildcard - George McAfee (7th Round) - “One Play” McAfee will play tailback, receiver, defensive back, and be my returner. The Hall of Famer did it all for the Bears in helping them to two Championships before the War, then another after he returned from the War.
From the New York Times.
Red Grange, a star of earlier Bears teams, called McAfee “the most dangerous man with the football in the game.” McAfee’s coach at Duke University, Wallace Wade, called him “a one-man offense, and practically unstoppable.” And George Halas, the Bears’ longtime owner and coach, said, “The highest compliment you can pay any ball carrier is just compare him with McAfee.”
His exploits with the ball in his hands are legendary, but his 25 interceptions rank 7th all time in Bears’ franchise history.
Chicago Grizzlies Defense
DE - Doug Atkins (1st Round) - Atkins (6’8”, 275) is a true Moneter of the Midway and he’s the centerpiece of my 4-3 defense. He was named to eight Pro Bowls with the Bears, and he’s a member of the Hall of Fame class of 1982.
From the Chicago Tribune,
“No question he was the strongest man in the world,” safety Richie Petitbon said. “When he wanted to play, nobody could block him. In that year (1963), I think he knocked out eight quarterbacks. I mean they left the field, babe.”
From the Chicago Sun Times,
“He was the greatest defensive end to ever play the game,” O’Bradovich said. “I would watch him pick up players and throw them around like he was plucking a chicken.
“There were some great defensive ends [in that era] — Gino Marchetti with the Colts; Willie Davis with the Packers. But there was only one Doug Atkins. He high-jumped 6-8 in college [at Tennessee] in 1951. The following year, the guy that won the Olympics [future NBA forward Walt Davis] jumped 6-8. He was like a gigantic hurdler. If an offensive lineman set up and took him on, he’ throw you like a rag doll. If you went down and tried to cut him, he’d jump over you. He was incredible.”
DT - Fred Williams (11th Round) - Williams was a 4-Time Pro Bowler for the Bears and a member of the 1963 Championship team, but more legendary is that Williams is the man that George Halas assigned to keep Doug Atkins out of trouble off the field.
DT - Anthony Adams (21st Round) - I need someone to do the dirty work by eating blockers and stuffing the run, and “Spice” can give me that, plus he can keep the team loose.
DE - Trace Armstrong (12th Round) - Armstrong was a solid player for the Bears racking up 42 sacks in six years, and averaging over 60 tackles per game.
OLB - George Connor (6th Round) - This Hall of Famer was a 4-time All Pro at three different positions, offensive line, defensive line and linebacker. The story of Bill George stepping back to become the first middle linebacker in history is well known, but Connor has a similar story that led to him becoming a linebacker.
Although George is remembered as one of the finest of the post-World War II tackles, it was as a linebacker that he made his biggest mark in the pro football world. And it was the sheer necessity of a desperate situation for the Chicago Bears that prompted George’s switch to a linebacker position.
The Philadelphia Eagles were running roughshod over the NFL in 1949 and one end sweep with two guards and the fullback leading Steve Van Buren around the flank had been particularly successful. The Bears coaching staff hit upon the idea of moving a big, fast, and agile man like the 6-3, 240-pound Connor into a linebacker’s slot to try to stop the play. The move was made, the experiment was successful, the Eagles were beaten and Connor became a linebacker for keeps.
MLB - Bryan Cox (23rd Round) - Cox only played two years with the Bears, but he was very good during his time here, racking up 100 tackles and 5 sacks in 1997, but more importantly, he played the game in a crazed frenzy.
OLB - Joe Cain (19th Round) - Cain is another underappreciated player for the Bears. He only missed one game in his 4 year career, while averaging 90 tackles a year.
FS - Shaun Gayle (16th Round) - Gayle was a solid player during his 11 years with the Bears, and he made a Pro Bowl. He averaged over 100 tackles per year during the six years he was a full time starter in Chicago.
SS - Tony Parrish (18th Round) - Parrish was an underrated and hard hitting strong safety that averaged 82 tackles a year his four seasons in Chicago.
CB - J.C. Caroline (17th Round) - J.C. played ten years with the Bears (84 starts), making the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 1956. His 24 interceptions is tied for 8th all time in Bears’ history.
CB - Allan Ellis (14th Round) - Allan “Fast” Ellis made the Pro Bowl in 1977, and he had 22 interceptions in 7 years with the Bears.
Defensively I’m running a 4-3, and my stout front seven will stop any running game. But with the play-making George McAfee coming in on nickle packages good luck trying to throw the ball, especially with Doug Atkins terrorizing quarterbacks.
Here’s a link to the Google document that has our entire draft.