Today brings us to 87 days until the Chicago Bears start the 2023 campaign, meaning that today's installment of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff will focus on the life and career of the most dominant player to don the number 87 in franchise history, defensive end Ed O'Bradovich.
Ed O'Bradovich's Path to the Chicago Bears
Hailing from the western suburb of Hillside, Illinois, O'Bradovich, or "OB" as he was called during his playing days, attended The University of Illinois, where he played wide receiver. In his final collegiate season, O'Bradovich recorded 233 yards, and finished the year top seven in receptions, receiving yards, and yards per reception in the Big 10 for the 1960 season.
Following his collegiate career, O'Bradovich played one year in the Canadian Football League, splitting time between the Calgary Stampeders and the BC Lions. There, the lanky receiver transitioned to a defensive end, and after finishing the season with one fumble recovery, O'Bradovich's rights were entered into the 1962 NFL Draft, where the Chicago Bears selected the defensive end with the 91st overall pick during the seventh round.
Ed O'Bradovich Becomes Chicago Bears Legend and NFL Champion
As a rookie, O'Bradovich immediately impacted the Bears' defense, adding five fumble recoveries and four sacks across 13 starts in 14 games. Despite a strong rookie season where he finished seventh in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, O'Bradovich took on more of a reserved role in the 1963 season but recorded two sacks and two fumble recoveries despite only playing in six of the team's games.
However, O'Bradovich's career highlight occurred in the ensuing NFL Championship game following the 1963 season, where the Bears won thanks in part to O'Bradovich's pick-6, which was one of just two touchdowns that the team scored to beat the New York Giants.
After the 1963 Championship run, O'Bradovich remained as a backup for two seasons, logging only three starts over 20 games in 1964 and '65. During that time, O'Bradovich failed to record a single sack, but in 1966, the defensive end was given another opportunity to be a full-time starter and did not disappoint.
Over the next six seasons, O'Bradovich started all 14 games in a season all but once, and added 46.5 sacks, with 22.5 coming during the 1967 and '68 seasons. Even in his final season in 1971, O'Bradovich started every game and logged 5.5 sacks before retiring following the season. After an eight-year NFL career, all of which came with the Chicago Bears, O'Bradovich retired with 51.5 sacks, making him the franchise's (unofficial) fourth-highest career sack leader as of today.
Since his retirement, O'Bradovich has remained close to both the game of football and the Chicago Bears as a franchise. Outside of providing speeches for both Dan Hampton and Mike Ditka at their Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies, O'Bradovich has been relatively active across television and film, appearing as himself in the 1971 movie Brian's Song, based on former teammate Brian Piccolo. O'Bradovich also appeared as himself in the TV movie Coach of the Year and as a bartender in an episode of The Duke.
Alongside his acting career, O'Bradovich has spent time as an NFL analyst, mainly as a co-host on the Suburban Tire Post Game Show along with former Bear Doug Buffone. Now, O'Bradovich works with Dan Hampton on the Dan and OB Show, which runs on WGN.