Today's edition of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff brings us just 64 days away from the team's opener against the Green Bay Packers on September 10th. To celebrate the season inching closer and closer, today we will be looking at the life and career of the best player in franchise history to don the number 64, left tackle Andy Heck.
Andy Heck's path to the Chicago Bears
After being born in Fargo, North Dakota, Heck moved to Fairfax, Virginia before attending W.T. Woodson High School in the Washington D.C. suburb. At Woodson, Heck participated in the school's football, basketball, and track teams, although it quickly became apparent that he was at his best on the gridiron. There, Heck quickly became a dominant force at the tight end and linebacker positions.
By as early as his sophomore season, Heck became a revered player in his district, particularly as a ferocious run blocker from the end spot. At 6' 6", Heck exemplified a great blend of size, speed, strength, and intelligence, factors which certainly helped him start on both sides of the ball throughout his high school career. By the time Heck became a senior, the punishing two-way player was already one of the most impressive athletes in school history, and he finished up his final year at Woodson by earning the title of "Male Athlete of the Year".
Following his impressive high school career, Heck accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Notre Dame where he would focus solely on the offensive side of the ball. During his freshman season in 1985, Heck recorded just 60 yards on four receptions. His sophomore and junior seasons weren't much better, despite the addition of head coach Lou Holtz before the 1986 season.
After totaling just 95 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore and junior combined, Heck transitioned to the offensive line before his senior season, and after being named a captain, the former tight end started at the left tackle spot. The Fighting Irish offense was particularly strong in 1988, and after the team went 11-0 during the regular season, Heck and Notre Dame won the National Championship by beating West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.
Upon the completion of his collegiate career, Heck entered his name into the 1989 NFL Draft, where he was selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the 15th overall pick. Heck entered his first season as a backup, but after just seven games the Notre Dame product forced his way into the starting lineup and was the team's premier left tackle for the final nine games of the campaign.
Over the next four seasons, Heck was an incredibly consistent and reliable left tackle for the Seahawks and started in all but 3 games from 1990 to 1993. During this time, the Seahawks struggled in general, totaling just 24 wins, but were especially stagnant on offense. When Heck became a free agent in the spring of 1994, Seattle elected not to resign their incumbent offensive tackle, who instead signed a four-year deal with the Chicago Bears.