When former Bears great Jimbo Covert is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Sept. 18, his official presenter will be long-time teammate Matt Suhey.
In their seven seasons together in Chicago from 1983-89, they helped the Bears win five straight NFC Central Division titles from 1984-88 and were key starters on the 1985 Super Bowl XX champions, Covert at left tackle and Suhey at fullback.
While a dominant Bears defense garnered most of the attention in the 1980s, Covert and Suhey helped the offense lead the NFL in rushing for four straight seasons from 1983-86.
Covert recently explained to ChicagoBears.com why he selected Suhey as his Hall of Fame presenter.
"We were roommates for seven years and I'm still very close with Matt," Covert said. "He was kind of a mentor. I learned a lot from him about what it meant to be a pro ... And I think it's a way to have Walter [Payton] a part of it as well because they were so close, and I just feel it's appropriate to have them both with Matt as the lead."
Well deserved: Former Bears great defensive lineman Dan Hampton, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2002, feels that the honor for Covert is well deserved and long overdue.
"I was pretty good," Hampton said. "[Mike] Singletary was pretty good. [Richard] Dent was pretty good. But maybe the best defensive player of the '80s was [Giants Hall of Famer] Lawrence Taylor, and the one guy Lawrence Taylor didn't want to play was Jimbo Covert. It's high time they recognize that and he's in the Hall."
Hampton recalls some legendary battles against Covert in practice.
"He was fantastic," Hampton said. "He was great with the run, the pass, and he'd slap you around if he didn't like you. He was the consummate enforcer on the offensive line."
Next man up: The inductions of Covert and former defensive end Ed Sprinkle Sept. 18 will give the Bears 30 Hall of Famers, increasing their NFL-leading total.
The next Bears player to be enshrined very well could be record-breaking return specialist Devin Hester, who will become eligible in 2022.
Hester played eight of his 11 NFL seasons with the Bears. The most prolific return specialist in league history, he holds NFL records with 19 kick-return touchdowns, 14 punt-return TDs and 20 return touchdowns, which includes punts, kickoffs, missed field goals, fumbles and interceptions.
Longtime Bears teammate Patrick Mannelly believes that Hester is a slam-dunk for the Hall of Fame.
"One hundred percent yes," said the former long-snapper. "That's a no-doubter. To me, Hall of Famers are guys who changed the game. Devin Hester changed the game every time he stepped on the field, whether the ball was in his hands or not. That to me is the definition of a Hall of Famer."
Mannelly described the opportunity to watch Hester from the Bears sideline like having a "free ticket to a show."
"It was a blast," Mannelly said. "Every fourth down, every kickoff, you're watching either the screen or—if you had a straight shot of him—you're watching him. When the defense came off the field, they'd turn around before they went through their adjustments. You'd hear [assistant coach] Bob Babich yelling at them, 'Get over here, we've got to talk about the next play,' and they'd be like, 'We're watching Devin Hester.'"
Unforgettable moment: As the Bears' long-snapper for extra points, Mannelly remembers nervously scrambling to find his helmet after Hester returned the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI 92 yards for a touchdown against the Colts.
"It's the Super Bowl," Mannelly said. "You're like, 'Oh my God, here it comes,' waiting to see the flashbulbs, expecting them not to kick it to Devin. But they kick it to him and he breaks that first wave and he's running down our sideline. And I say, 'Oh blank, I've got to go find my helmet. I've got to go in.' Luckily I wasn't celebrating too much. I remembered to go get my helmet."