As the NFL Draft approaches, Grizzly Detail is counting down the Top 30 draft picks in Chicago Bears history. In order to qualify for the list, a player must have worn a Bears uniform for at least five seasons (sorry Rosevelt Colvin and Wilber Marshall), and players who were selected in lower rounds of the draft will have an advantage in the countdown.
We get the countdown started with our number 30 selection, and it’s offensive tackle Keith Van Horne.
Van Horne, who was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 1981 draft, played for 12 seasons with the Bears, racking up 186 games played in the process. At the University of Southern California, Van Horne racked up various honors, including a runner-up finish for the Outland Trophy (college football’s outstanding lineman). He was also an All-American at the school, and he continued his great play when he joined the Bears.
At 6’6’ and 265 pounds, Van Horne provided an intimidating presence on a Bears offensive line that was critical to the success of the team in the 1980’s. With a running back like Walter Payton and a quarterback like Jim McMahon, the team had to have excellent blockers to create holes and protect their prized assets, and Van Horne used his strength and leverage perfectly in making that happen.
Along with the rest of his teammates on the 1985 Bears, Van Horne became a household name in Chicago when the team won Super Bowl XX. Even all of these years later, he is still sought after for endorsements and all sorts of speaking opportunities, and he still lives in the Chicago area.
In the book “The Game of My Life” by Lew Freedman, Van Horne talked about what the 1985 team means to fans of the franchise, and about the place they hold in his heart:
“”They love the Bears,” Van Horne said of the fans. “I mean, a Bears fan is a Bears fan. But they have a special place in their hearts for us, and we certainly appreciate that. It’s quite a blessing to be able to have those opportunities still 20 years down the road. It’s really neat.””
As the number 30 guy on the list, Van Horne was obviously in the debate with several other players. The most notable player that he ended up beating out was kicker Kevin Butler, who was a fourth round pick of the team in 1985. The ultimate turning point in the debate between the two members of the 1986 Super Bowl champions was Van Horne’s longevity at one of the toughest positions in football. Racking up nearly 200 games is quite the achievement, and even though Butler is one of the greatest kickers in Bears history (although he has been surpassed by Robbie Gould), his ranking of 69th on the league’s all-time field goal percentage list knocked him just out of the top 30.