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.
The Bears drafted safety Mike Brown out of Nebraska with the 8th pick in the 2nd round of the 2000 draft. Brown was both a first team all-American and academic all-American his senior year after he had 96 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and 5 interceptions. Brown continued to produce once he joined the Bears.
Brown started every game for the Bears as a rookie and finished the season with 97 tackles, 1 forced fumble and an interception that he ran back for a touchdown giving a glimpse of the type of player he was going to be. In 2001, Brown’s 2nd season on the Bears, he had arguably his best season. The Bears went 13-3 behind one the best defenses I’ve ever seen. Brown seemed to come up with a big play whenever the Bears needed one and finished the season with 77 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 2 touchdown returns which were both game winners in overtime. He established himself as a leader in the secondary in 2001 and was named 1st team All-Pro by the Associated Press though strangely not to the Pro Bowl.
Brown continued to be a force in the secondary the next two years (’02-’03) starting all but 1 game and forcing 8 turnovers. Unfortunately injuries began to pile up for Brown and struggled to stay on the field. He missed 14 games in ’04 with an Achilles injury, then the final 4 games in ’05 with a calf injury but still managed to make the Pro Bowl that season. Brown was off to a good start in ’06, but suffered a lisfranc injury in week 6 which forced him out the rest of the year. Brown started the ’07 season strong as well with an interception in week 1, but suffered a season ending knee injury later in the game.
Due to the fact that Brown hadn’t made it through a full season in 4 years, the Bears signed Brown to a 1-year incentive laden deal based on playing time. Brown had a good season and made it all the way to week 15 before suffering another calf injury. In Feb 2009, the Bears announced that they would not re-sign Brown and he signed a contract with the Chiefs where he played for one season before retiring.
Brown played 9 seasons with the Bears but only made it through his first four seasons without missing games. He was a key part of dominant Bears defenses in both ’01 and ’06. Brian Urlacher called Brown the real leader of the defense and the team just didn’t play the same when he wasn’t out there. If Brown and Tommie Harris had been healthy in the ’06 Super Bowl, I still think the outcome would have been different. Brown finished his Bears career with 512 tackles, 17 interceptions, 42 pass defenses and a Bears record 7 defensive touchdowns.
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.