As we prepare for the Chicago Bears’ season opener against the Green Bay Packers, we are providing fans with a list of 100 interesting facts, records and tidbits to help you get in the football mood.
We are continuing that list today with 10 facts we’re nicknaming “Leaders and Legends,” not a re-telling of the short-lived Big Ten football divisional names, but instead a look back at some interesting team records held by some iconic, and not-so-iconic, players.
A Bear for the long haul
Many Bears players have spent their entire career with the team, but only one stands alone as the longest-tenured Bear in the history of the franchise.
That honor belongs to long-snapper Patrick Mannnelly, who was a member of the Bears for an astounding 16 seasons. He appeared in a total of 245 games, and both of those marks are Bears records for longevity.
Cal Ripken, Meet Mongo
Unfortunately for Mr. Mannelly, injuries robbed him of the chance at another incredible Bears record, but the man who holds it was an instrumental part of the 1985 Super Bowl winning squad.
That man is Steve “Mongo” McMichael, who set the Bears’ record for most consecutive games played with a staggering 191 straight contests of donning the blue and orange. He appeared in those games during a 12-year span going from 1981 to 1993, and he saw the Bears get into the playoffs on numerous occasions during his tenure with the team.
You can put it on the board, yes!
Former Bears kicker Kevin Butler used to hold the record for points scored in a Bears career, but he was beaten in that category by a player who is no longer with the team (but fans certainly would love to see come back).
That honor goes to kicker Robbie Gould, who racked up 1,207 career points during his tenure with the Bears. Gould made 379 extra points and 276 total field goals to achieve that number, putting him alone atop the heap as the team’s all-time leading scorer.
The ultimate Monster of the Midway
The Bears have had a ton of incredible athletes on the defensive side of the football, but one of them stands above the rest in terms of a key ingredient to defensive success.
That distinction goes to legendary lineman Richard Dent, the Super Bowl XX MVP who patrolled the field for a decade for the Bears. Dent has the Bears’ all-time record for sacks, taking down quarterbacks a staggering 124.5 times in his career with the team.
Despite this dominance, Dent made the Pro Bowl just four times in his 15-year career, and was named as a First Team All-Pro once. Fortunately for posterity, Dent was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a fitting achievement for one of the most fearsome defenders of all time.
Trust us: it’s not a bear hug
Brian Urlacher is a noted pitchman with a full head of hair and a big smile in his post-retirement days, but when he was on the field for the Bears, he was the bane of the existences of many offensive coordinators.
To wit, Urlacher holds the record for most combined tackles in Bears history, registering a jaw-dropping 1,354 of them in his remarkable career.
That’s just offensive
Before we get started with this fact, we’ll ask that you hold all boos and bad memories until the end of the section.
Okay, it’s time to talk about Jay Cutler.
The former Bears quarterback was the subject of more controversy and sports radio vitriol than perhaps any other player to ever don the orange and blue, but what cannot be denied is that he rewrote the team’s record books at the quarterback position.
Cutler is the all-time Bears leader in passing yards with 23,443, touchdowns with 154, and, unfortunately for him, sacks with 251.
Contrary to popular belief, Cutler is NOT the team’s all-time leader in interceptions thrown. That record belongs to Sid Luckman, who threw 132 in his Bears career.
Ah, but Mr. Cutler couldn’t best this Bear
Okay, now that we’ve gotten the Cutler praise out of the way, it’s time to mention another record that number 6 doesn’t hold. That record is the single-season passing mark, and it belongs not to Cutler or Luckman, but to Erik Kramer, who threw for 3,838 yards and 29 touchdowns during the 1995 season with the Bears.
Now THERE’S a name you don’t hear often
Before we delve into this next fact, we’ll go ahead and do a thought exercise: if we asked you which Bears receiver led the team in career yards with the club, who would you say?
While many would guess names like Curtis Conway, Marty Booker, or even Brandon Marshall, the correct answer is actually Johnny Morris. Playing from 1958 to 1967, Morris hauled in 356 career receptions for 5,059 yards, the only Bears receiver in history to eclipse the 5,000 yard mark in his career.
Morris also caught 31 touchdowns during his career, the entirety of which was spent with the Bears.
The highest of highs and the lowest of lows
Now that we’ve gone through some of the remarkable records that Bears players achieved on the field, we’re going to highlight a few of the genetic marvels that have strapped on helmets and played games at Soldier Field.
Many NFL players are tall, but four Bears stand head-and-shoulders above the rest as the tallest players in team history. Doug Atkins, Marc Colombo, Dave Hale, and Jimmy Herndon all hold that mark together, with the quartet standing a staggering 6-feet-8 inches tall.
In terms of the shortest Bears player in history, that diminutive honor is held by just one man: Pard Pearce, who stood just 5-feet-5 inches tall and weighed in at 150 pounds.
Current Bears running back Tarik Cohen grew up just a little too much to seize that record, as he stands 5-feet-6.
Talk about an impolite question
Despite checking in at a feathery 150 pounds, Pearce is not the lightest Bears player of all time. That distinction goes to Chuck Dreesen, who tipped the scales at a whopping 147 pounds during his playing days.
The heaviest Bears player of all time was not Williams “Refrigerator” Perry, but instead was Aaron Gibson, who weighed in at 375 pounds. He appeared in 20 career games for the Bears.
For more Bears facts:
Part 1: The Bear Necessities: 10 basic facts about the team, and the players now patrolling Soldier Field.
Part 2: In The Beginning: 10 facts about the team’s founding, original owner George Halas, and the first big star the team was able to sign in the 1920s.
Part 3: There's No Place Like Home: 10 facts about the places where the Bears have played football.
Part 4: Weathering the Storms: 10 facts about the Bears' relationship with Mother Nature.
Part 5: DA BEARS: 10 facts about the Bears through the eyes of American pop culture.
Part 6: 10 for the Record Books: A look back at some of the remarkable, and odd, NFL records set or held by Bears players.