NFC North: Dan Hampton

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Defensive end Richard Dent retired from the NFL after the 1997 season. At the time, he had more sacks than all but two players in the NFL's history of recording the statistic. So why did it take until 2011 for Dent to get elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune, who is one of 44 voters on the selection committee, attempts to explain why. According to Pompei, the biggest objection he heard over the years was that Dent played in only four Pro Bowls. As Pompei goes on to explain, Dent was a legitimate snub from at least two other Pro Bowls in which he had better sack numbers than the players who were elected ahead of him.

Meanwhile, Dent apparently also suffered from the "stigma" of being on a defense with stars Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary. "In truth," Pompei writes, "he was the primary playmaker on one of the most dominant defenses in history and a primary reason the Bears won so much. The Bears won 72 percent of the games in which he had a sack. When he didn't have one, they won 39 percent."

That sounds like the definition of "long overdue" to me.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Dent said Monday that former Tennessee State coach Joe Gilliam Sr., or his daughter Mary, will introduce him at this summer's ceremony. Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times has more.
  • Melissa Isaacson of recalls the Bears drafting Dent as an eighth-round steal.
  • We should learn the fate of the Metrodome roof Thursday. Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune reports an engineering firm will recommend its complete replacement at the cost of $18 million.
  • The Minnesota Vikings want to use a lottery scratch-off game to help fund a new stadium, according to The Associated Press.
  • The Vikings aren't raising ticket prices in 2011 but the first payment on their season tickets is due Feb. 23, a week before a lockout would commence, according to Tom Pelissero of
  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the Green Bay Packers: "When training camp opens up for the 2011 season, they arguably will be the most talented team in the National Football League."
  • This offseason forces scheduling uncertainty for normally tightly scheduled Packers coach Mike McCarthy, notes Jason Wilde of
  • Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "The Packers used an aggressive game plan [in Super Bowl XLV] and McCarthy trusted [Aaron] Rodgers to be smart with his decision making. The quarterback responded by passing for 304 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Packers ran the ball just 13 times."
  • The return of defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch in 2011 will be a boon to the Detroit Lions' defense, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh tells Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Lions won't use a franchise tag this offseason, notes Tom Kowalski of

Best Bears Team Ever: 1985

July, 1, 2010
Notable players: Tailback Walter Payton; quarterback Jim McMahon; defensive linemen Richard Dent, William "The Refrigerator" Perry, Steve McMichael and Dan Hampton; linebacker Mike Singletary; safety Dave Duerson.

[+] EnlargeWilliam Perry
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesRefrigerator Perry celebrates during Super Bowl XX against the New England Patriots.
The 1985 Chicago Bears were known, in equal parts, for their dominant defense and outsized personalities. The Bears' blitz-happy "46" defense spurred them to a 12-0 start, a 15-1 regular season record and the largest margin of victory in a Super Bowl at the time. And a roster that included three Hall of Fame players, five All-Pros and nine Pro Bowlers gave us some lasting and unique images.

Who can forget Perry diving into the end zone on Monday Night Football or catching a touchdown pass at Lambeau Field? Many of us can still feel the tension between coach Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, a dynamic that ultimately resulted in both men carried off the field after the Super Bowl. McMahon's message-laden headbands. And is there anything else to say beyond "Super Bowl Shuffle?"

Those sideshows were the grizzle on the meat of a team that was as talented, at least defensively, as any modern-day championship group. That collection of players gave the Bears the only championship they have known in the past 47 years.

Nearly half of the defensive starters made the Pro Bowl. Singletary and Hampton are in the Hall of Fame. One day, Dent will join them. Two players finished with double-digit sacks: Dent (17) and linebacker Otis Wilson (11). As a team, the Bears forced 54 turnovers. During one particularly dominant stretch, the Bears went two months without giving up more than 10 points in a game.

Their only loss came in Week 13 at Miami, which finished 12-4 that season. But the Bears rebounded from that loss, winning their final three games by an average margin of two touchdowns, and then elevated themselves to historic status in the playoffs.

On the way to Super Bowl XX, the Bears shut out the New York Giants (21-0) and Los Angeles Rams (24-0). The culmination of their season was a dominating 46-10 victory over New England in which the Bears set seven Super Bowl records.

Most impressive win: It's hard to look past a 36-point victory in a title game of any kind. At the time, it was the largest margin of victory in a Super Bowl.

Quotable: "In life, there are teams called Smith, and teams called 'Grabowski'....We're Grabowskis!" -- Ditka, painting his team as a blue-collar group that evoked Chicago's heritage. The nickname caught on.

Honorable mention:

1941: Six future Hall of Fame players contributed to a 10-1 record and an NFL Championship. All of its victories were by more than a touchdown, and its only loss was by two points to Green Bay.

1940: The same core of Hall of Fame players finished 8-3 and also won the NFL Championship. The title game was a legendary 73-0 defeat of Washington.

1942: An undefeated regular season (11-0) featured four shutouts over its final six games. But this team lost 14-6 to Washington in the NFL Championship Game.




Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22