Willie Galimore Days Until Chicago Bears Season Opener


Twenty-eight days until kickoff! You know what that means, just four more Sundays until Chicago Bears football returns! While we got our first taste of Bear football this past Thursday, I feel as though the thought on most fans’ minds is the disappointing news regarding Kevin White. While I hate to prolong this somber mood, today we will be taking a look at Bear legend Willie Galimore.

"Flashy, improvised, impossible runs marked his NFL career. He lit up dull games, brought the crowd to its feet. People would shake their heads. How the hell did he do that? -Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman"

Our Bears have been fortunate to have a handful of difference makers at the running back position. The list is headlined by standouts Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski, Gayle Sayers, Walter Payton, Neal Anderson and currently Matt Forte.  But the years prior to the “Kansas Comet” there had been another graceful runner in the backfield, Willie Galimore, aptly nicknamed “The Wisp.”

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A four time All-American at Florida A&M Galimore was used to flying, usually on a football field, but somehow the highly decorated runner flew under the radar when he fell to the Bears in the fifth round of the 1956 NFL Draft. While never a “featured ‘back” with the Bears (he never averaged more than 10.9 carries per game), he wasted little time in making his mark in Chicago. By the end of his sophmore season he had contributed a combined 18 TDs on offense.

It seemed that everyone that had gotten a chance to see him play came away impressed. Florida A&M Assistant coach said this about his former player, “He had something many running backs don’t have, both the short stride and the long stride. You need the short stride to change directions. Once he broke clean, he had the long stride to break away from you. As a receiver, I saw him make a lot of one-hand catches like someone picking grapes from a vine. In terms of a total football player, he was the best Florida A&M ever had.”

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Arguably his best game came in the 1962 season opener against the 49ers. He rushed 22 times for 181 yards and two scores. The highlight being his 77 yard TD in the 4th quarter. Unfortunately later that season he would injure his knee and require surgery. The Bears ended the season at a very respectable 9-5. The 1963 season saw the return of Galimore, who stayed healthy for the most part, and the not coincidentally, an NFL Championship.

The following July, the Bears met for training camp at St. Joseph’s College, excitedly prepaparing to defend their title. On July 27th 1964 Galimore (29) and teammate Bo Farrington (28) were both killed in an automobile accident when they were travelling home from camp.

Two men lost way too soon. Long time backfield mate, Rick Casares, and the entire team was distraught, and they would finish the season a disappointing 5-9. Shortly thereafter the Bears would retire Galimore’s #28, cementing his impact on the franchise.

Next: Offensive Stock Up, Stock Down After 1st Preseason Game

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