The Chicago Bears Centennial Scrapbook features a list of the top 100 players in franchise history as ranked by Hall of Fame writers Dan Pompei and Don Pierson. The following is a story about Nos. 26-50.
The list of 25 players ranked as the best in Bears history from No. 26-50 is highlighted by three longtime teammates who helped the club reach its last Super Bowl.
Center Olin Kreutz (No. 27), linebacker Lance Briggs (No. 28) and cornerback Charles Tillman (No. 31) combined to play 520 games and 37 seasons and make 15 Pro Bowls.
Kreutz was voted to six Pro Bowls in 13 seasons with the Bears from 1998-2010, anchoring the offensive line while winning four division championships and one conference title. The Washington product appeared in 191 games with 183 starts, one shy of Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton’s franchise record.
Briggs was selected to seven Pro Bowls in 12 seasons from 2003-14. He appeared in 173 games with 170 starts, recording 1,566 tackles, 15 sacks, 16 interceptions and 18 forced fumbles. His six defensive touchdowns are third most in Bears history and his five interception return TDs are second most. Briggs was the first linebacker in NFL history to return an interception for a touchdown in each of his first three seasons.
In 12 seasons with the Bears from 2003-14, Tillman set franchise records with nine defensive touchdowns, eight interception return TDs, 42 forced fumbles and 675 interception return yards. His 36 interceptions are the most by a cornerback in team history and third most overall behind safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37).
The list of the best Bears players from No. 26-50 also includes seven Hall of Famers in tackle Ed Healey (No. 26), running back Paddy Driscoll (No. 32), center George Trafton (No. 33), lineman George Musso (No. 35), running back Red Grange (No. 36), end George Halas (No. 37) and tackle Link Lyman (No. 38).
Healey was named first-team All-Pro five times in six seasons with the Bears from 1922-27 and was selected to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1920s. Halas once called the Dartmouth product the “most versatile tackle of all time.”
Driscoll was a Chicago area native who attended Evanston High School and the University of Illinois. He was voted first-team All Pro in two of four seasons with the Bears from 1926-29. Driscoll, who had played in 13 Major League Baseball games with the Cubs in 1917, served as Bears head coach in 1956-57.
Pro football’s first great center, Trafton was named all-NFL in eight of 13 seasons with the Bears from 1920-32. He helped the Bears win two league championships in 1921 and 1932 and was voted to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1920s.
Musso helped lead the Bears to four NFL championships in 12 seasons from 1933-44. He was voted to three Pro Bowls and selected to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. Musso was the first player to earn all-NFL honors at two positions: tackle in 1935 and guard in 1937.
Grange, who starred at Illinois, helped popularize pro football when he signed with the Bears in 1925 and embarked on a cross-country tour with the team that consisted of 16 games in two months. Playing defensive back in his second stint with the Bears, Grange made a game-saving tackle in a 23-21 win over the Giants in the 1933 NFL Championship Game.
Halas served as founder, owner and coach of the Bears, but he was also an excellent two-way player who was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1920s. In a 1923 game, he stripped the ball from the legendary Jim Thorpe and returned it 98 yards—an NFL record that stood until 1972.
Lyman was voted first-team All Pro twice in seven seasons with the Bears in the 1920s and ‘30s. In his final two seasons with the Bears, they won the NFL championship in 1933 and went 13-0 in 1934 before losing to the Giants in the title game.
Click through the photo gallery below of all 25 players ranked from No. 26-50, a list that also includes five members of the 1985 Super Bowl championship team; running backs Matt Forte, Neal Anderson and Rick Casares; and receivers Harlon Hill, Ken Kavanaugh and Johnny Morris.
Counting down the best players in the storied history of the Chicago Bears as chosen by Bears Centennial Scrapbook authors Don Pierson and Dan Pompei. In the third of four galleries, we present numbers 50 through 26.