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.
Shaun Gayle was drafted by the Bears in the 10th round of 1984 draft. He turned out to be one of the best 10th round picks in Bears history, but it took him a few years to make a significant contribution. The Bears drafted Gayle as a cornerback out of Ohio St and kept him at corner for the first five years of his Bears career. For the first four years Gayle was primarily a backup, but he was a valuable sub and a solid special teams contributor who had the shortest punt return TD in NFL history (5 yards) during the ’85 playoff win over the Giants. Gayle earned the starting corner job before the ’88 season but a neck injury ended his season after only 4 games.
In 1989 Gayle was healthy, but switched from corner to safety and earned the starting free safety job before the season. The Bears probably should have made the move earlier as Gayle was much more effective as a safety. In his first year at the position Gayle had 3 interceptions and 108 tackles. Gayle moved to strong safety in ’90 and was even better with 125 tackles, 2 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and a sack. He missed 4 games due to injury the next season but was still voted to the Pro Bowl and then had 100+ tackle seasons in both ’92 & ’93. Gayle’s play slipped a little in ’94 with only 79 tackles as the Bears run defense fell to 24th in the league.
After 11 years with the team, the Bears let Gayle go to the Chargers in free agency and replaced him with Marty Carter. Gayle was a standout on special teams for the first half of his Bears career and became a Pro Bowl caliber safety the second half. He finished his Bears career 685 tackles, 14 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, 4 defensive touchdowns, 1 Pro Bowl, and a Super Bowl ring.
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.