Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 95 Days with Richard Dent

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Chicago Bears / RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Today's edition of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff marks 95 days until the start of the 2023 campaign, meaning that we will get a chance to take a look at the life and career of the most prolific number 95 in Bears history, legendary defensive end Richard Dent.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Dent joined Tennessee State University's football team following his time at then-Murphy High School. While at Tennessee State, a historically black college and university, Dent became a standout at the defensive end position, lettering in all four seasons and recording two All-American nominations. Dent recorded 39.5 sacks over all four years, which still stands as the school's all-time sack record.

Chicago Bears add Richard Dent ahead of 1983 Season

Following his final collegiate season in 1982, the Chicago Bears drafted Richard Dent 203rd overall during the eighth round of the 1983 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Dent was a contributing player, appearing in all 16 games, making starts in three of them, and recording two sacks on the year.

By his second season, Dent's abilities were apparent, as the young lineman recorded 17.5 sacks despite starting only the final 10 games of the season, leading Dent to be nominated to his first Pro Bowl and gaining an All-Pro selection. Dent's 1984 season was the record for the most sacks by a Bears player in one year until Robert Quinn recently surpassed that number with 18.5 sacks in 2021. In fact, until 2018, Dent held the top four single-season sack marks in Bears' franchise history.

In 1985, Dent enjoyed another great season as an individual, while the Bears and the vaunted 46 defense enjoyed their best season as a team. With 17 sacks, Dent was elected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl and was rewarded with a First-Team All-Pro nomination.

However, Dent's biggest contributions came during the team's post-season run, where the defensive end contributed six sacks over three games, including 1.5 sacks in Super Bowl XX. With 1.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles during the game, Dent was selected as the Super Bowl MVP, making him one of just ten defensive players to ever do so, and only the fifth to do so at that time.

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Chicago Bears / RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Following the team's Super Bowl run, Dent would continue to be a foundational cornerstone of the Bears' defense and was with the team through the end of the 1993 season. During those eight years, Dent failed to record double digits sacks only twice, missed only nine total games, made two more Pro Bowls and two more All-Pro teams, and cemented himself as a Chicago Bears legend.

After the 1993 season, the Bears and Dent split, with the player signing with the San Francisco 49ers. As a 9er, Dent suffered a season-ending injury early in the year and played in only two games, although he did receive a Super Bowl ring as the team would go on to win Super Bowl XXVIII. After his year in San Francisco, Dent would return to Chicago for the 1995 season, where he logged time in only three games. After a season with the Colts in 1996 and a season with the Eagles in 1997, Dent officially retired from the NFL, finishing his career as the Chicago Bears' all-time sack leader.

Where Does Richard Dent Rank All Time?

At the time of his retirement, Dent had the third most sacks in league history, behind only Reggie White and Bruce Smith. Today, Dent is still ranked tied for 10th in most sacks by an NFL player, tied only with divisional rival John Randle.

In 2011, Dent was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame alongside NFL legends such as Deion Sanders, Shannon Sharpe, and Marshall Faulk. Despite retiring after the 1997 season, Dent was kept out of the Hall of Fame for nearly a decade, being first eligible in 2003.

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Since his retirement, Dent has stayed active within the greater Chicagoland community. Dent's Make A Dent Foundation is a "not-for-profit that facilitates the advancement of inventive ways to help people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives". Dent also serves as a board member for the Illinois Literacy Foundation and the Chicago Sports Commission.