We’re heading into the dog days of the offseason, counting the days until the Chicago Bears 2014 season kicks off. Thanks to Bear Goggles On contributor and the fine editor of Blackhawk Up Keith Schultz’s suggestion, we’re going to do a Top 100 list of the all time Chicago Bears. It’s a fun way to pass the time and take a stroll down memory lane.
When I think of the all-time great Bears running backs, I’ll admit the name Rick Casares never crosses my mind. It will now after doing some research on this underrated Bears great. Casares was drafted by the Bears in the 2nd round of the 1954 draft after a stellar career at Florida where he was all-SEC in both football and basketball. Casares had to wait a year before he could join the Bears due to military obligations, but made an instant impact when he joined the team in 1955.
As a rookie Casares led the Bears and the NFL in rushing with 1,126 yards which at the time was the 2nd most rushing yards in NFL history. Casares also led the NFL in rushing touchdowns, yards per carry, longest run (81 yards), and longest punt of the season (71 yards). Casares went on to the lead the Bears in rushing for the next 6 seasons and finished in the top ten in the league all six seasons. The Bears made it to the championship in 1956 behind Casares’ hard-nosed running skills, but lost to the Giants (47-7). Casares reportedly had a dispute with George Halas later in his career which led to a decrease in playing time with the Bears, but he was a part of the 1963 NFL champion squad.
By the end of Casares’ ten years with the Bears he was their all-time leader in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and carries, but those numbers were eventually surpassed by Walter Payton, Neil Anderson, and Matt Forte. Casares was known for his bruising running style and his ability to play through pain; Mike Ditka called Casares the “toughest guy I’ve ever played with”. Casares spent the last two seasons of his career with the Redskins and Dolphins, but played the bulk of it with the Bears and finished as a 5-time Pro Bowler and one of the Bears greatest running backs of all-time.
What do you think of the ranking? Too high? Too low? I guess you’ll have to check back to see who finished ahead of him to judge for yourself. We’ll be counting down a different person each day as we inch our way to the September 7th season opener.