Chicago Bears add Willie Galimore in NFL Draft, wins championship
Following a dominant collegiate career, Galimore entered the 1956 NFL Draft, where he was selected in the fifth round with the 58th overall pick by the Chicago Bears, making him just the fourth player drafted by the franchise that year. Galimore joined a team who had just lost the NFL Championship in head coach Paddy Driscoll's first of two seasons as head coach. The Chicago Bears had a talented roster that included defensive stars Joe Fortunato, Bill George, and Doug Atkins.
Upon joining the Chicago Bears ahead of the 1957 season, Galimore quickly worked into the offensive backfield despite full-back Rick Caseras serving as the team's leading rusher for the two previous years. In his rookie season, Galimore, who picked up the nickname "The Wisp" as a pro, contributed 739 total yards and seven touchdowns en route to finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting. Unfortunately, the team took a step back compared to their league runner-up finish from a year prior and ended up with a losing record.
By his second year, the offense was able to add another dimension with the addition of flanker Johnny Morris, but the future franchise leader in receiving was another mouth to feed in the offensive backfield, and Galimore was limited to just one start on the year. However, the back finished his sophomore campaign with an impressive 770 total yards and 11 touchdowns, a mark that was strong enough for both Pro Bowl and All-Pro nominations.
Following Galimore's second year, Driscoll was replaced as head coach by George Halas, who also served as the team's coach before Driscoll's two-year stint. Over the next two seasons under Halas's direction, Galimore was restricted to more of a reserve role in the offensive backfield due to Caseras' dominance and Morris' emergence as a star offensive weapon. Between the 1959 and 1960 seasons, Galimore totaled a combined 727 yards and four touchdowns in 24 games and 11 starts. This stretch was perhaps the least productive of his professional career, but by the following season, Galimore would more than prove his worth to the Chicago Bears.
With Caseras, the team's leading rusher over each of the past six seasons, moving to full-back, Galimore was promoted to the team's starting running back and led the unit with an impressive 707 rushing yards in 14 games. He added over 500 yards through the air and seven total touchdowns and finished the year with his first season of over 1,000 all-purpose yards. The team continued to reshape their offense, most notably by adding Pittsburgh star tight end Mike Ditka, and the offense and Galimore helped the team post an 8-6 record.
During the ensuing 1962 season, injury-shortened Galimore's season to just seven games, providing rookie back Ronnie Bull an opportunity to gain some experience early in his NFL career. Despite starting in just three games (he played in seven total on the year), Galimore accumulated nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns and even had the longest rush of the NFL season with a 77-yard scamper early in the year.
The following year, Galimore returned for a healthy 1963 campaign that saw the Bears at their best with "The Wisp" on the roster. After posting an 11-1-2 record in part thanks to Galimore's 452 yards and five touchdowns, the Bears went on to win the ensuing NFL Championship game against the New York Giants.