With just 16 days remaining until the team's first regular-season outing, today's installment of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff brings us to the life and career of the best player in franchise history to wear the number 16, kicker Bob Thomas.
Kicker Bob Thomas's road from college champion to Chicago Bears
A native of Rochester, New York, Bob Thomas attended McQuaid Jesuit High School as a teen, where he excelled on and off the field. A star in the classroom, Thomas was also revered for his play on the school's football and soccer teams.
After earning his high school diploma, Thomas accepted a scholarship to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he would continue his growth as both a student and an athlete. While pursuing a degree in government, Thomas served as a kicker, starting in his final two seasons. As a senior, he kicked the game-winning field goal against Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. With the win, the Irish claimed the season's National Championship.
After graduation, Thomas entered the NFL ranks and was selected by the Los Angeles Rams with the 388th pick during the 15th round of the 1974 NFL Draft. However, Thomas did not make the final roster, serving as a practice squad player throughout the year. At the end of the season, Thomas elected to join the Chicago Bears for the 1975 training camp, and he would go on to win the starting job for the season.