Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
Who do you think will be the next Bears player elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and why?
Marcellus, New York
I feel that there are several former Bears players worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, but I believe the next one to be voted in will be Devin Hester when he becomes eligible in 2022. Hester is considered by many to be the greatest return specialist in NFL history, and his record of 20 kick return touchdowns may never be broken—at least in our lifetimes. Even when opponents were trying to keep the ball out of his hands by squibbing short kickoffs and punting out of bounds, Hester was still impacting the game. I've spoken to a lot of individuals who played with and against him and every single one of them feels that Hester deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. As far as the other former Bears who should be considered for enshrinement in Canton, I think you could make a strong case for Lance Briggs, Joe Fortunato, Jay Hilgenberg, Olin Kreutz, Steve McMichael and Charles Tillman.
I know the Bears and the University of Illinois have a storied history, and I'm wondering who was the last Fighting Illini player to make a meaningful impact on the Bears.
The Bears have drafted 19 Illinois players, which is tied for 11th most among all colleges. But they haven't picked a Fighting Illini product since 1986 when they chose receiver David Williams in the third round. Williams, however, was waived before the start of his rookie season, never appearing in a regular-season game with the Bears. There really hasn't been an Illinois player who's made an impact with the team since guard Revie Sorey and linebacker Tom Hicks in the 1970s. Three of the Bears' top players in the 1960s were Illinois products: Hall of Fame middle linebacker Dick Butkus, defensive end Ed O'Bradovich and defensive back J.C. Caroline. Bears owner George Halas, who was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1920s, went to Illinois, as did superstar Red Grange, who signed with the Bears in 1925 and helped popularize pro football by headlining a coast-to-coast barnstorming tour.
How many all-purpose yards did Walter Payton achieve in his career and where does that stand on the all-time list? P.S.: We love Da Bears in Australia.
It's always great to hear from Bears fans all over the world. Walter Payton ranks third in NFL history with 21,803 all-purpose yards (16,726 rushing, 4,538 receiving and 539 on kickoff returns). The only players with more are Jerry Rice (23,546) and Brian Mitchell (23,330). Emmitt Smith (21,564) is fourth, followed by Darren Sproles (19,696).
Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week.
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