As the NFL Draft approaches, Grizzly Detail is counting down the Top 30 draft picks in Chicago Bears history. In order to qualify for this 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 continue the countdown with a player that still holds a couple of interesting receiving records for the Bears, despite his career ending in 1952. We’re talking of course about Jim Keane.
Keane, who played end and defensive end for the Bears from 1946-1951, was a huge beneficiary of the play of Sid Luckman during the latter part of the 1940’s. An 18th round pick for the Bears in the 1945 NFL Draft, Kean ended up playing in 81 career NFL games, racking up 224 career receptions, 3222 yards, and 24 touchdowns. In an era when passing games were just starting to round into form, the receiver made some huge plays for the team as they won the 1946 NFL Championship.
The season after the Bears won the 1946 championship, Keane had his most productive season as a pro. In 12 games with the Bears, he caught 64 passes for 910 yards, and hauled in 10 touchdown catches. That season was the first of four years in a row in which Keane led the Bears in receptions, something that no other receiver has ever accomplished.
In fact, Keane was the Bears’ all-time leader in receptions when he left the team after the 1951 season, and still holds the record for most receptions in a single game in Bears history, catching 14 passes in a loss to the New York Giants in October of 1949.
No, Keane’s numbers aren’t all that impressive overall, but as an 18th round pick, and considering his standing in Bears history in terms of the number of times he led the team in receiving, putting him in the #18 slot on this list seems right. He didn’t have much longevity to his career either, but in an era where long careers weren’t exactly common, it wouldn’t be right to hold that against him.