In May of 2013, the Chicago Bears made an announcement that they would be retiring Mike Ditka’s number 89 later that year and that announcement was quite significant. The Bears stated that not only would Ditka’s number be retired, but that it would be the last number the Chicago Bears would honor in that way.
With the amount of hall of fame talent that had a major impact on the franchise, that announcement was alarming for Bears’ fans who love and embrace history. Dan Hampton? Mike Singletary? Brian Urlacher? Devin Hester? Justin Fields (Just kidding… maybe)? How could the Bears’ organization make such a declaration?
Windy City Gridiron has bestowed upon me the challenge that if the Bears decided to retire one more number, who should it be? I think most Bears fans would jump to the name Brian Urlacher and why shouldn’t they? Urlacher’s resume is more than deserving: 4 first team All-Pros, the NFL’s all decade team for the 2000s, and his bust resides in Canton. Even if you aren’t an awards guy, just watching Urlacher play it was always clear he was a special talent.
But I’ve decided to go a different route. The number I think the Bears should retire?
For Cole Kmet? No. Keith Jennings? Kassem Sinceno? No. No. The number 85 should be retired not for a player, but for a team: the 1985 Chicago Bears.
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out.
In this situation, the Bears are only retiring one more number, so let’s make it count. I know the most played out team in the history of Chicago sports is the ’85 Bears. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve accolades. Many NFL experts still believe that the ’85 Bears are the greatest single season team of all-time and their defense is still used in modern day vernacular, “Sure, that defense is good, but let’s not pretend they’re the ’85 Bears.” The Bears organization has done very little to recognize the accomplishments of that team.
Of that entire roster, the only name that has had his number retired is Walter Payton. With the hall of famers on that roster, that’s really hard to believe.
We are four years away from the 40th anniversary of that team. Four years from now, the Bears should be slated to have a home game against the LA Rams, the same team they defeated to go to their first Super Bowl. Let’s honor the team on the day of that game.
Let’s honor the hall of famers like Jimbo Covert, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary. Let’s honor the personalities like Jim McMahon and William Perry. Let’s honor the ferociousness of Steve McMichael and Gary Fencik. Let’s honor the relentless pursuits of Otis Wilson and Wilbur Marshall. And let’s take another opportunity to honor the legendary Walter Payton.
If the Chicago Bears retire one more number, let’s make it count, let’s retire 85 for the entire team. The Seahawks retired 12 for their fan base, so precedent has been set to do something unique like this.
We all know how overplayed the ’85 Bears are, especially in the city of Chicago. Let’s give this team one more honor that they truly deserve and let them ride off into the sunset and then we can finally open a new chapter for the Chicago Bears’ franchise.