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.
The Bears selected Jim Covert, an All-American LT out of Pittsburgh, with the 6th overall pick in the 1983 NFL draft. It was their first selection in what turned out to be one of the Bears best drafts off all-time. With the Bears first 5 picks they selected Covert, Willie Gault, Mike Richardson, Dave Duerson, and Tom Thayer and then added Mark Bortz in the 8th round. All 6 were starters and impact players on the Bears Super Bowl champion ’85 team. Jimbo Covert feuded with head coach Mike Ditka at first, but still started all 16 games at left tackle his rookie year.
In 1982, a year before Covert joined the team, the Bears finished 18th in the league in rushing yards. In 1983, when Covert took over at left tackle, the Bears led the NFL is rushing yards and would do so for a record-setting four consecutive seasons (83-86). Covert was named co-offensive captain with the great Walter Payton in just his second year with the Bears and by his 3rd season was named first team All-NFL by every major publication and to his first Pro Bowl. He won all of the same honors in ’86 and was widely considered the best LT in the NFL during those two seasons.
Injuries started to pile up for Covert and he missed 6 games in ’87 and 7 games in ’88. Covert came back with strong seasons in ’89 & ’90 and was named 2nd team All-NFL after the ’90 season. Unfortunately Covert ruptured a disc in his back before the ’91 season and it forced him into an early retirement. Jimbo Covert’s career only last 8 seasons with the Bears, but he was the best LT I’ve ever seen for a three-year stretch (84-86) and a few more healthy seasons probably would have landed Covert in the Hall of Fame.
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.