Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 73 Days with Mike Hartenstine

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears / Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports
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Today marks just 73 days until the start of the 2023 season, meaning that today's installment of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff will focus on the life and career of the best player in franchise history to don the number 73, defensive end and Super Bowl champion Mike Hartenstine.

Mike Hartenstine's path to the Chicago Bears

A native of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Hartenstine grew up in the Lehigh Valley area, and would eventually attend Liberty High School. During his four years in high school, Hartenstine dominated in every sport he played, including football, basketball, and track and field.

On the gridiron, Hartenstine was a standout, two-way player at Liberty, and is now viewed as likely the second-best player to come from the school, surpassed only by legendary linebacker Chuck Bednarik. In his other sports, Hartenstine was a dominant athlete, posting new school records for the shot put as well as leading his basketball team in scoring as a senior.

After his high school career came to an end, Hartenstine elected to continue his athletic career at Penn State. At the time, a freshman in the program was not allowed to play varsity football, but in the ensuing three seasons, he was a dominant force for the Nittany Lions.

Spending time at both defensive tackle and end, Hartenstine led the team in tackles as a sophomore and was selected as an All-American as a junior. Over his three seasons with the school, the program finished with a 32-4 collective record, won two separate bowls and finished the season in the top 10 thrice.

Following the 1975 season, Hartenstine entered the ensuing NFL Draft, where he was selected 31st overall during the second round by the Chicago Bears. Hartenstine was the second player selected by the team after they took legendary running back Walter Payton in the first round. Both Hartenstine and Payton joined a troubling Bears team that desperately needed leadership and direction, and both players helped the team completely change course over the next decade or so.