The dog days of the offseason are finally behind us now that training camp is underway, just in time for our countdown of the Top 100 Chicago Bears of all time to really heat up. As we get closer to the season opener, we get closer to naming the #1 Chicago Bear of all time.
A lot of Chicagoans know Doug Buffone as half of the best Chicago Bears postgame show on radio or as handicapping “expert” Big Doug, but good old #55 was quite a player in his own right. That’s why he ranks as the #34 player in our Top 100 list.
Buffone was selected in the 4th round of the 1966 NFL Draft out of Louisville, where he was one of only four players all time to lead the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons. Buffone was also selected by the San Diego Chargers in the AFL Draft, but Doug chose to play in Chicago. He went on to have a terrific 14 year career with the Bears.
It was a rough time to be a Chicago Bear. The team was recently off the 1963 championship and they were years away from the Shufflin’ Season of 1985. Buffone was like a lot of other 55′s in Bears history. Like Otis Wilson and Lance Briggs, Buffone was the Robin to someone else’s Batman. Buffone got to play alongside Hall of Famer Dick Butkus from his rookie season until Butkus retired in 1973. Butkus got all the glory, while Buffone just racked up the tackles and made plays.
Buffone racked up 1200 unofficial tackles. His 18 sacks (although not officially recorded as an official statistic) in the 1968 season are a team record. His 24 career interceptions are tops among Chicago Bears linebackers all time. At the time of his retirement after the 1979 season, Buffone was the Bears all time leaders in games played with 186. He’s since been passed by Steve McMichael and Patrick Mannelly to rank third all time.
Buffone has gone on to have a successful post-NFL career. He was heavily involved in the Arena Football League, successfully launched several business ventures including Gibson’s Steak House and Digital One. His work on the radio is legendary.
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.