In a city with a great sports history like Chicago, there are some legendary numbers that our favorite players have worn. Numbers 23,34,51,40,14 are all numbers worn by our heroes and just seeing the number everyone knows the name associated with the number. #50 has not been worn since 1992 and was unofficially retired when Mike Singletary played his final game in a Bears uniform. One of the unexpected problems that a team like the Bears with a rich and treasured history have, is that there are already 13 numbers retired.
The officially retired Chicago Bears numbers are as follows:
41- Brian Piccolo
51- Dick Butkus
Not only have the Bears retired these jerseys they have 32 total players in the Hall of Fame with 27 of them playing the majority of the career with the Bears. With only so many numbers available George McCaskey asked Samurai Mike if it was OK if #50 was put into circulation specifically for recently signed linebacker James Anderson who has worn #50 for his entire career with the Carolina Panthers.
“I talked to Mike Singletary and told him that we hadn’t assigned 50 to anybody since he retired and that we needed to put it back in circulation,” said Bears chairman George H. McCaskey.
“He said he wasn’t aware that it hadn’t been assigned, that he’s got no problem with it, and he’s perfectly fine with it. In fact, he would prefer that it be assigned to somebody. He said, ‘I’d rather somebody wear it than see it hanging it up in a window somewhere.'”
Singletary reportedly didn’t even know that the #50 hadn’t been worn since he last took it off and had no problem with someone else wearing it proudly. Anderson certainly understands the tradition and will approach the number with the proper respect:
“There’s a lot of history behind this number with the Bears and I’m honored and blessed that they would even consider letting me wear it,” Anderson said. “I’m going to do everything I can to honor the tradition by going out every day and every game and giving it all I’ve got.”
It will be kind of difficult seeing someone else wear the #50 this fall, and I’m sure wearing it will put some pressure on Anderson to live up to Bears fans expectations of putting on a legendary number. If he plays well and leads the Bears to the playoffs nobody will probably blink an eye after the opening Sunday that #50 is back in play, but if Anderson struggles I’m sure there will always be comments about him disgracing the legendary #50.
When the Bears signed James Anderson, we speculated whether or not he should wear his old #50. You voted about it here. Now that it’s a reality, what do you think? Big deal, little deal or much ado about nothing?