We had so much fun doing our Countdown to Kickoff series last season that we decided to do it again. In case you’re new to the series, we’ll do a roster preview as we count down the days until the Chicago Bears September 7th season opener against the Buffalo Bills.
Many young Chicago Bears fans aren’t likely familiar with the name Bill George. But for anyone who calls themselves a fan, they better be. George remains one of the greatest middle linebackers in team history and deserves a mention alongside the likes of Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher and the other great Bears at the position.
The Bears drafted George out of Wake Forest in the second round of the 1951 NFL Draft. At 6-2, 237 he had good size for the middle linebacker position for that time, but bounced around at different positions during his first few seasons. This included a stint as a “middle guard” for the Bears, which was a crucial position on the team’s then-five man defensive line. George finally settled in at middle linebacker for good during the 1957 season and is considered the first “true” middle linebacker in league history.
From there he went on to record 18 interceptions in his career, countless number of tackles and sacks (since they were not tallied back then) and played until the age of 37 before retiring after the 1966 season. George was an 8-time Pro Bowler and 8-time First-Team All Pro and was an integral part of the Bears’ 1963 NFL Championship team. He eventually was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1974.
George’s No. 61 has since been retired by the Bears and deservedly so. He paved the way for so many greats at the middle linebacker position, but today he signifies so much more — just 61 days until the season opener!
Be on the lookout for our Countdown to Kickoff series as we continue to work our way to the season opener on September 7th. We’re 61 days from kickoff. Are you ready???