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Three former Bears among Hall of Fame nominees


Three players who spent most or all of their NFL careers with the Bears are among 130 Modern-Era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2021.

The trio consists of linebacker Lance Briggs, center Olin Kreutz and cornerback Charles Tillman. Briggs and Kreutz were also on the list in 2019, while Tillman is among 14 players included in their first year of eligibility.

Kreutz was selected by the Bears in the third round of the 1998 draft out of Washington. He was voted to six Pro Bowls during his 13 seasons in Chicago 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 with the Bears, one shy of Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton's franchise record.

Tillman and Briggs were chosen by the Bears in the second and third rounds of the 2003 draft, respectively.

Tillman played his first 12 NFL seasons with the Bears from 2003-14 before spending his final year with the Carolina Panthers. He was part of a dominant defense that helped the Bears win three NFC North titles and one conference championship. He set team records with nine defensive touchdowns, eight interception return TDs 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).

Known for smacking the ball away from opponents, a technique dubbed the "Peanut Punch," Tillman forced 42 fumbles in 12 seasons, including a career-high 10 in 2012 when he was voted to his second straight Pro Bowl.

Briggs was selected to seven Pro Bowls while spending his entire 12-year NFL career in Chicago 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.

Other Modern-Era nominees for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2021 who played for the Bears but spent most of their careers with other teams include defensive end Jared Allen, guard Ruben Brown, quarterback Dave Krieg, return specialist Glyn Milburn and receiver Muhsin Muhammad.

The list of Modern-Era nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and to 15 finalists in January.

Bears record-breaking return specialist Devin Hester will be eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2022.