The Chicago Bears recently announced that they plan to retire Mike Ditka’s #89 in a halftime ceremony on December 9th during a Monday Night Football game versus the Dallas Cowboys. It’s a fitting tribute to a legendary Bear, but it will take yet another number out of circulation for the Beloved.
When the Bears hang up 89, they will have fourteen retired numbers, the most in the NFL. As the charter franchise of the NFL and nearly 100 years of history, it’s not surprising the Bears have so many players to honor. With a 53 man roster plus a practice squad, not to mention restrictions on which numbers certain positions can wear, the Bears are running out of numbers and need a new way to honor their greats while keeping enough numbers to field a team. It’s time for the Bears to create a Ring of Honor in Soldier Field.
The Bears ran into a number “controversy” earlier this offseason when they signed former Carolina Panther James Anderson. During his run with the Panthers, Anderson wore former Chicago Bears legend and Hall of Famer Mike Singletary’s #50. Samurai Mike gave his blessing, so Anderson will bring #50 out of mothballs.
Some might argue that Singletary’s #50 should be out of circulation. It’s still strange to see Shea McClellin in Dan Hampton’s #99 and Cheta Ozougwu wearing Richard Dent’s #95. I can’t imagine the Bears plan to hand out #54 to anyone any time soon.
A Ring of Honor gives legendary players the respect they deserve while keeping enough numbers available to field a team. I haven’t had the chance to see most of the players whose numbers have been retired by the Chicago Bears, but in my opinion the only numbers which should be retired are Papa Bear George Halas’ #7 and Walter Payton’s #34. The others should ring Soldier Field and have their place in Chicago Bears history, but the numbers should continue to be used.
If George McCaskey’s statement that Ditka’s #89 will be the last number to be retired and players can continue to wear Hall of Fame numbers like 50, 95 and 99, it would only be fitting to have other HOF’s numbers and other Bears legends’ numbers in circulation.
What do you think? Should the Bears un-retire certain numbers and open up a Ring of Honor? Would a Bears museum in Soldier Field be more appropriate? Which numbers should stay retired? There’s a lot to discuss on this topic, so post your Comments.