Number Five: Neal Anderson
Perhaps the most difficult thing to do in all of sports is to follow a legend. Stepping in for the single greatest player in Bears’ history was Neal Anderson, and while he may not have had the career of his predecessor (let’s be honest, who has?), Anderson ended up making a name for himself with a very successful NFL career.
Drafted in the first round (27th overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft, Anderson played sparingly for the first couple years of his career, before finally getting his opportunity after the legend retired prior to the 1988 season. As soon as he was given a full opportunity, Anderson proved why the Bears invested such a high pick on a player who plays a position that was seemingly filled.
In 1988, Anderson burst onto the scene with great speed and quickness that allowed him to make decisive cuts on the field. Anderson was a patient runner with great vision and instincts, while possessing plenty of speed to take it to the house at any point. In his first year as a starter, Anderson was named to the Pro Bowl with his 1,106 total rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
An argument could have been named for Anderson as the best running back in the NFL the following few seasons, as he was selected to the Pro Bowl the following three years. Anderson’s best season was probably in 1989 when he carried the ball 274 times for 1,275 yard (4.7 YPC average) and 15 total touchdowns.
Anderson’s career started to slide in 1991, and while he was decent for the next few years, his trademark burst and elusiveness was a thing of the past. However, he retired after the 1993 season, after a very successful eight year career with the Bears. He retired as the second leading rusher in franchise history, and is still the third leading rusher today.
Following in the footsteps of such a legendary player is extremely difficult, and few have done it better than Anderson.
Next: Number Four