Bears Hall of Famers Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski, Walter Payton and Gale Sayers are among 24 finalists at running back for the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
In celebration of the league’s 100th season, a roster of the 100 greatest players and 10 best coaches has been compiled. Over the next six Friday nights, host Rich Eisen will be joined by Patriots coach Bill Belichick and analyst Cris Collinsworth to introduce the All-Time Team on NFL Network.
The 12 running backs on the team will be unveiled this Friday at 7 p.m. (CT).
Grange starred at the University of Illinois before signing with the Bears in 1925, a move that helped legitimize professional football. “The Galloping Ghost” headlined a barnstorming tour during which the Bears traveled coast-to-coast, playing 19 games in 67 days. Grange helped the Bears win back-to-back NFL championships in 1932 and 1933. His No. 77 is retired by the club and he was part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s charter class in 1963.
Nagurski was a bruising running back who helped the Bears win three NFL titles in 1932, 1933 and 1943. He was a four-time first-team All-Pro selection and was voted to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1930s. Nagurski played for the Bears from 1930-37 and then came out of retirement in 1943, helping the Monsters of the Midway win a league championship. His No. 3 is retired by the Bears and he was also part of the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1963.
Payton spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the Bears, missing only one game and retiring following the 1987 season as the league’s all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards. Payton was voted to nine Pro Bowls, set 16 NFL records and 27 Bears marks and had his No. 34 retired. He also threw eight touchdown passes and led the NFL in kickoff returns as a rookie in 1975 with a 31.7-yard average. “Sweetness” was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.
Sayers was an electrifying and elusive running back who was a threat to go the distance every time he touched the ball. “The Kansas Comet” set seven NFL records and 23 team marks during an injury-shortened seven-year career with the Bears. In 1977, at the age of 34, Sayers became the youngest man ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. His effective playing time is also the shortest of any Hall of Famer. Sayers had his No. 40 retired by the Bears in 1994.
Following each premiere of the NFL 100 All-Time Team will be the NFL 100 All-Time Team Reaction Show, a one-hour live recap hosted by Chris Rose where the selections from each episode will be debated and discussed.
The process to select and celebrate the historic team began in early 2018 with the appointment of a 26-person blue-ribbon voting panel made up of coaches, team and front office executives, former players and members of the media with a deep appreciation for the history of the league, its teams and players, as well as a commitment to research.