Chicago Bears Top 100: #17 Bill Hewitt

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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.

We are going all the way back to the 1930s for the next player in our top 100 Bears of all-time. Bill Hewitt joined the Bears in 1932 and played in Chicago for 5 seasons. He is best known for his refusal to wear a helmet until the league forced it on him during the last year of his career. Being the last helmentless player in the NFL is a well-known anecdote, but Hewitt should be remembered more for his play on the field.

Hewitt was one of the best two-way players in NFL history. On offense he played left end and led the Bears in receptions in three of his five years on the team. His best year was ’36, his last with the Bears, when he led the team with 15 catches and 6 receiving TDs. His most notable offensive play came in the first ever NFL championship game in 1933. The Bears were trailing the New York Giants 21-16 with 5 minutes to play and Hewitt designed a play involving a jump pass from Bronco Nagurski to Hewitt, who then lateraled the ball to right end Bill Karr for a 33-yard game winning touchdown and the first NFL Championship for the Bears.

Hewitt was a solid offensive player, but on defense he was one of the best ends in the league. He was so quick that he earned the nickname “The Offside Kid” because he was in the opponents backfield so soon after the snap that he appeared to be offsides. They didn’t keep accurate defensive stats in the 30s, but it is estimated that Hewitt accounted for over 300 yards lost in ’33! Hewitt was named 1st team All-NFL in 4 of his 5 seasons with the Bears (32,33,34,36). He decided to retire after the ’36 season, but the Eagles owner offered to double his salary ($200!) so the Bears traded Hewitt to the Eagles for the 1st overall pick in the draft. Hewitt played 3 more seasons with the Eagles and was 1st team All-NFL in two of them before retiring again after the 1939 season.  Hewitt was inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously in 1971.

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.

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