With 98 days remaining until the Chicago Bears kick off the 2023 season against the Green Bay Packers, today's Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff features the most productive player to wear number 98 in franchise history, defensive lineman Bryan Robinson.
Robinson's path to the NFL was certainly a long and winding one, but once he found his place among the professionals, he turned in a productive and successful NFL career. Starting his collegiate career at the College of the Desert, Robinson transferred to Fresno State ahead of the 1995 season, where he played for two seasons before joining the NFL.
Robinson's NFL career started somewhat unceremoniously, as the defensive lineman joined the St. Louis Rams in 1997 as an undrafted free agent. Playing as a backup in just 11 games, Robinson only managed one sack as a rookie, and at the end of the season, the Rams chose not to resign the Fresno State product.
Bryan Robinson becomes a consistent contributor for Chicago Bears
As a second-year player, Robinson, also known as "Big Dog", joined the Chicago Bears via free agency, where his career started to pick up a lot of steam. In his first season in Chicago, Robinson started five games at the end of the season but was only able to record 0.5 sacks. The following year, Robinson took a great leap forward with the Bears, becoming a full-time starter and contributing five sacks during his third NFL season. More importantly than just his statistical contribution, Robinson cemented himself as a starter at the defensive end position for the next few seasons.
From the beginning of the 1999 season to the end of the 2001 season, Robinson started all 48 games for the Bears at defensive end, recording 14 sacks over that time period. Prior to the 2002 season, Robinson suffered two broken wrists after tripping over his dog at his own home, forcing him to have surgery on both hands. This would eventually force Robinson to break his 53-game streak of starting games as a Chicago Bear, dating back to the final five games of his first season in Chicago.
For the 2002 and 2003 seasons, Robinson made the transition to defensive tackle, and while his numbers and production slipped a little, he was still a consistent starter in the defensive front through 2003, his final season with the Bears.
During his time in Chicago, Robinson's greatest moment came at perhaps the unlikeliest of times, as the defensive lineman blocked a potential game-winning field goal against the Green Bay Packers just six days after the passing of Bears' legendary running back Walter Payton, breaking the team's 10-game losing streak against Green Bay.
Robinson finished his Bears career with 16.5 total sacks in Chicago, which is good enough for 26th all-time in franchise history, tied only with Wilbur Marshall and, more recently, linebacker Roquan Smith.
Robinson would go on to play seven more seasons in the NFL, with time spent on the Dolphins, the Bengals, and the Cardinals before retiring following the 2010 season. Unfortunately, Robinson passed away not too long after his NFL career ended, and was found dead in a Milwaukee hotel room on June 11, 2016.