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.
Julius Peppers might be a recent collegiate basketball player turned defensive end, but perhaps the greatest to pull off that change as #12 on our list of Top 100 Chicago Bears, defensive end Doug Atkins. The 6’8″ Atkins attended Tennessee on a basketball scholarship before changing to football. After an All-America season in 1952, he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and played his first couple of seasons for the Browns before joining the Bears in 1955 and forging his Hall of Fame career with the Bears.
Atkins joined the Bears in 1955 anchored their dominant defense for 12 seasons. Atkins was named to eight Pro Bowls from 1957 – 1963 and 1965 and was Pro Bowl MVP in 1958. My guess is they took the game more seriously back then. Atkins was a 4-time first team All Pro and was also named to the second team 6 times. He was a two-time NFL champion, once with the Browns in 1954 and again with the Bears in 1963.
Atkins was known as a “free spirit” and often clashed with Bears head coach George Halas. They often clashed over Atkins’ easy-going approach to practice. They had a good working relationship, but in 1967 Atkins demanded and trade and was sent to the New Orleans Saints, where he played out his last three seasons.
Atkins was named to the All-Decade team for the 1960’s and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
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.