Which Current Chicago Bears Are Worthy of the Hall of Fame?
The Chicago Bears have more members of the National Football League Hall of Fame than any other franchise with 27. In my lifetime, I've seen five players and one coach. With the bye week upon us, I thought this would be an excellent time to look at some of the current Bears and see which ones are potential candidates for Canton. The last honoree from the Bears (pictured above) was Richard Dent. For those of you that didn't see The Sack Man play, he was one of the best defensive ends of his era. Being a member of the 1985 Bears defense didn't hurt, but he was fun to watch and could make quarterback's lives difficult.
I've decided to use a few different factors in determining a player's eligibility. One of the actual challenges for all of the candidates is the fact that none have won a Super Bowl. While most of the players on my list still have some years left, winning a championship is a major factor. I believe it plays a HUGE role in determining some borderline players. Other factors include impact on the game, consistency, contributions to the franchise, national exposure and how the individual compares with others at his position. I use the old eye test with most of these guys, and will sprinkle a statistic or two as well. And I'll admit some of the individuals on my list are a stretch, but I think it makes for a good conversation.
I am sure many of you will have thoughts to share as well. I welcome and embrace your comments, concerns and criticisms. Hit me up on Twitter @ChicagoBearJew and Hashtag #RML. I'll be more than happy to respond. And without any further delay...Away we go...
Let's start with the Bears' head coach. Lovie Smith has been a very consistent coach in a league that is known for firing coaches on a regular basis. As of the print of this article, he is 75-58, has two NFC North titles and a trip to the Super Bowl. He is also very much respected around the league and players rarely if ever say a bad word about Smith.
As of right now, I don't think Smith has done enough to earn a trip to Canton. But he certainly has time to earn a ticket. And winning the Big Game will most likely seal his fate.
I think Brian Urlacher is a no brainer. Arguably the best linebacker of his generation, has several trophies on his mantle and the statistics to back it up. He is a guaranteed 100% lock.
Charles Tillman will have a difficult time getting into Canton. It's not to say he isn't a very good bordering on great football player, I just don't think he has done enough to warrant enshrinement. But he's certainly one of the best Bears I've seen during my time on this earth, and will go down as a local legend.
Matt Forte has put up some solid numbers in his time with the Bears, but he is quite a long-shot at this point. He just doesn't bring enough to the table.
Robbie Gould is the best kicker the Bears have had in their franchise's history. He is also one of the most statistically accurate kickers of all-time in the NFL. But, kickers have a hard time convincing the powers-that-be that they are players too. Gould certainly has Hall of Fame talent as a kicker, I just don't know if he will have Hall of Fame votes as a result of being a kicker. So I will say no but not because of anything else except the way the voting game is played.
I think the answer to this question is yes, but it won't be a slam dunk for Julius Peppers. He probably will have to wait a few years. The bigger question is..what team will he represent? Bears or Panthers...you make the call.
Brandon Marshall has the statistics to enter the conversation, I am just not sure if he has the respect to be a real candidate. Now, let's say he has a few huge years with the Bears and wins a few things, than he may be worthy of some consideration. At this point, he is on the pay-no-mind list for voters. And it's hard to argue.
Devin Hester is a real gamebreaker. I just think he needs to do a little more. It is very hard for a Special Teams player to get strong consideration (see Robbie Gould), so he needs a few more notches on his belt.
Lance Briggs has had the honor and challenge of playing next to Urlacher. As we've learned, Briggs is a great football player in his own right. Up until the last two weeks with his consecutive pick sixes, he didn't have the sexy statistics that voters look for in a player. I think Briggs is squarely on the bubble, and could move to the positive side soon if the Bears win a Super Bowl while he's a Bear.
As of today, Jay Cutler isn't close to being a Hall of Fame quarterback. But, could he become one? There's three things that need to happen. One is he needs to win. If he gets a Super Bowl or two, he then becomes relevant to the conversation. The second thing is he needs to be a bit more consistent. While he has some spectacular games, he has some real bad ones too. Finally, he has to clean up his imagine. Let's face it...he isn't exactly the most popular guy in the NFL. He has the talent, now he needs to work on these three areas.