With a birth year of 1920, back when they were known as the Decatur Staleys two years before they officially became the team we recognize today, the Chicago Bears have a rich and storied history full of all-time great linebackers, one of the best running backs ever, one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, and so on, which makes selecting their Franchise Five nearly impossible. Unfortunately, that difficult task was handed to me as we continue our offseason series here at CBS Sports, so with the help of CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli, who also happens to be a Bears fan in Chicago, I did my best to sort through the jumbled list of Hall of Famers that have donned the blue of the Bears to come up with a Franchise Five.
CBSSports.com’s Franchise Five dives into five most impactful people in each NFL’s team history. Our rules here bind us to pick just one quarterback, three non-quarterback players and one head coach.
For the Bears, picking a coach and quarterback was rather easy for differing reasons, but picking only three non-quarterback players was rather difficult. An NFL-high twenty-seven Chicago Bears have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. So, hard decisions and controversial snubs had to be made. That couldn’t be avoided.
But with the help of Fornelli, I came up with a Franchise Five that I think appropriately reflects the rich and storied history of the Bears. We begin with the founder of the franchise in what was the easiest selection of the five.
Coach George Halas
There’s a reason the winner of the NFC gets awarded the George Halas Trophy, a tradition that began back during the 1984-85 season. Halas isn’t just the Bears’ best-ever coach, he’s also one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport. In his 40-year coaching career that began in 1920 with the Decatur Staleys — who would become known as the Chicago Bears in 1922 — and ended in 1967, Halas went a remarkable 318-148-31 with the franchise, leading them to six championships along the way.
Halas, who also owned the team, is the only acceptable answer here. His initials are still stitched on the Bears’ uniforms, after all. It’s difficult to imagine them ever getting removed.
This isn’t really up for debate, but shoutout to both Mike Ditka and Lovie Smith, who deserve recognition as great Bears coaches, both of whom took the team to the Super Bowl — with Ditka winning his appearance with that historically great 1985 defense, and Smith perhaps not getting the recognition he deserved until the Bears tried to replace him with Marc Trestman and then John Fox. Perhaps firing Smith after a 10-win season wasn’t a smart move, after all. In the seven seasons since Smith last walked the Bears’ sidelines, the Bears have made the playoffs only once (in 2018 under current coach Matt Nagy)
Just missed: Mike Ditka
QB Jay Cutler
Perhaps, Jay Cutler never developed into the superstar the Bears thought they were acquiring when they traded a fortune for him in 2009, but by the time his career with the team ended after the 2016 season, he’d…