Walter Payton ranked as the greatest Bears player in team’s first 100 years

Getty Images

The NFL’s 100th season is also the 100th season for the Chicago Bears franchise, and the team has released a listing of its 100 greatest players.

Ranked No. 1 on the list, which was undertaken by longtime Chicago NFL writers Dan Pompei and Don Pierson, is Walter Payton.

Payton played his entire NFL career for the Bears, who selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 1975 draft. He stayed with the Bears through 1987 and retired as the league’s all-time leading rusher. Payton, who died in 1999 at the age of 45, remains one of the most beloved players in NFL history.

Rounding out the Top 10 all-time Bears are Dick Butkus, Bronko Nagurski, Sid Luckman, Gale Sayers, Mike Ditka, Bill George, Bulldog Turner, Doug Atkins and Danny Fortmann. Khalil Mack, at No. 60, was the highest-ranking active player.

28 responses to “Walter Payton ranked as the greatest Bears player in team’s first 100 years

  1. More like the NFL’s greatest player ever period in my book and I’m a Viking fan

  2. They made the correct choice. Walter Payton was a fabulous player. I used to love watching the grit, determination and toughness that he ran with. He was also an even better human being.

  3. Dick Butkus, Bronko Nagurski, Sid Luckman, Gale Sayers…
    It’s pretty awesome to be considered better than these men!
    I’m not old enough to have watched them but wow, that’s quite a crew!

    @amurdora – Singletary was ranked #15 on the list.

  4. I have a decent knowledge of football…never heard of 7-10. Either way, where is Kevin White?

  5. Sweetness was simply the best. And mind you the D was always stacked against the run because the Bears had Bob Avellini under center for a good portion of his career!

  6. No brainer choice. Either him or Butkus. The Bears really haven’t had great players through the decades, when you think about it. Very few HOF players.

  7. cobrala2 says:
    May 23, 2019 at 1:24 pm
    Dick Butkus, Bronko Nagurski, Sid Luckman, Gale Sayers…
    It’s pretty awesome to be considered better than these men!
    I’m not old enough to have watched them but wow, that’s quite a crew!

    @amurdora – Singletary was ranked #15 on the list.

    1 0 Rate This

    ————————

    Sayers is the 3rd choice on the list, but he didn’t play that long. Arguably the best open field runner ever with Barry Sanders.

  8. Aarogantrodgers – That seems extremely high to me because just looking at running backs I’d be hard pressed to put Payton ahead of Barry Sanders.

  9. It’d be tough to argue with this list, except maybe for Mack. In my mind, he hasn’t been there long enough to warrant inclusion with those other guys. If he’s there another 5 years or more and playing at or even near the level he is now, then absolutely… but not now. Not yet. That’s not a knock on Mack, it’s an acknowledgement of how many great players have rolled through Chicago.

    The Bears have more guys in the H.O.F. than any other team and by a healthy margin. Mack’s got to put in some time before I can consider him among the Bear greats. Not that it matters what I think, but still…

  10. Sunday Swami-
    you’d be hard pressed to put Payton ahead of Barry Sanders?? You’re nuts, Payton is the greatest football player in my lifetime (I’m 49), excluding QB’s and that whole debate. Better than Lawrence Taylor and better than Jerry Rice because his position was much more difficult and he took much more of a pounding. And he returned kicks/punts as well. Rice was the best WR, but Payton got hit on every down, whether he got the ball or was blocking, or catching a pass, or returning a punt.

    As far as Barry Sanders, great player, different style of runner than Payton, but I’d rank Payton higher by a significant margin…And I’m not a Bears fan, just sayin”

  11. tylawspick6 says:
    May 23, 2019 at 1:37 pm
    No brainer choice. Either him or Butkus. The Bears really haven’t had great players through the decades, when you think about it. Very few HOF players.
    ==============================================================================
    The Bears, with 28, have the most Hall-of-Famers of any NFL team.

  12. I consider myself lucky to have lived in Chicago in the Walter Payton era. No matter what happened on the play, when he went down he always popped right back up again–right after putting the ball down just a little bit ahead of where it was really downed. He never responded to any kind of trash talk, never acknowledged being hit.

    It was a travesty in Super Bowl 20 when Ditka had the ball handed off to The Fridge on the 1-yard line rather than Walter. Payton was always a team player, but I think it was painful to him not to score that day.

  13. As a Packers fan, I honestly don’t know what Walter had more of: talent or class. He was one elite a football player, but an even better human being. As much as I dislike the Bears, I could never say a bad thing about this guy, and I always rooted for him in all but two games every year. The ranking is well-deserved.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!