Last Saturday night, Brian Urlacher was notified that he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018 in his first year of eligibility. Playing for the Chicago Bears his entire career, Brian Urlacher was a dominant force at middle linebacker from 2000-2012 who helped lead some of the best Bears defenses in team history. Brian now ranks among the greatest middle linebackers in NFL history and Chicago Bears history. In this week’s 3-Point Stance, I rank the the top three middle linebackers to ever line up in Soldier Field for the Chicago Bears.
1. Dick Butkus – Widely regarded as the fiercest linebacker to ever hit the gridiron, Dick Butkus is the gold standard when mentioning NFL middle linebackers. He played 119 career games and wreaked havoc on his opponents each and every snap as he compiled career totals of 1,020 tackles, 22 interceptions and 27 fumble recoveries. Butkus’ nine year career and highlight tape stacks up with any middle linebacker in history. Most consider him one of the best defensive players to ever play the game and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
2. Brian Urlacher – Soon to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on August 4th, Urlacher comes in as Chicago’s second greatest linebacker on this list. Brian’s versatility was what made him so unique. He had the ability to sack the quarterback and stuff the run but could also drop back into coverage against wide receivers and tight ends and had the incredible speed needed to run down ball carriers from any angle. Named 2000 Rookie of the Year and 2005 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Urlacher garnered many individual honors but was the ultimate team player who made the rest of his teammates better every snap he was on the field. In 182 career games, Urlacher totaled 1,229 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries. All solid totals for a linebacker who was an All-American safety drafted out of the University of New Mexico.
3a. Bill George – A Chicago Bears linebacker from 1952-1965, George was regarded as one of the fiercest defensive players to line up against in football history. Bill George played in an incredible 8 straight Pro Bowl games and is credited as the first true middle linebacker to play football. In 173 career games, George tallied 18 interceptions and 17 fumble recoveries. George’s #61 is retired by the Bears and he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
3b. Mike Singletary – The theme of fierce Chicago linebackers continues with Mike Singletary who was regarded as the “The Heart of the Defense” for the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears and the Bears of the mid-80s. Nicknamed Samurai Mike for his intimidating play and the death stare he gave opposing quarterbacks from across the line of scrimmage, Singletary was consistently among the NFL’s best and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 and 1988. Singletary roamed Soldier Field from 1981-1992 and was a Hall of Fame inductee in 1998. In 179 career games, Singletary had totals of 885 tackles, 7 interceptions and 19 fumble recoveries. Known as a coach on the field for the Bears defense, Mike Singletary has spent 12 seasons as a coach in the NFL since retiring from playing football in 1992.
Who do you have as the best 3 linebackers in Chicago Bears history? Tweet at me @c23v and let me know your top 3!