A couple weeks back, when NBC Sports cousin Mike Florio was embarking on his “Faces of the Franchise” search for the four icons to grace each franchise’s hypothetical Mt. Rushmore, I gave Mike the answers to the quiz.
Dick Butkus. Mike Ditka. George Halas. Walter Payton.
Dan Hampton, speaking with CSNChicago.com last week at the second annual “Pro Football Hall of Fame Chicago Salute to Greatness” in Glenview, offered precisely that foursome.
“Halas has gotta be first,” Dan said. “He started the whole thing. Second would be Walter Payton, then Dick Butkus. Then probably Mike Ditka, because nobody has meant more to the Chicago Bears over the last 30-40 years than Mike Ditka. Not only as a great player, but as a coach that brought us a Super Bowl title.”
Exactly the order I ranked them, with Ditka the difficult call over Gale Sayers and Brian Urlacher.
But fellow Hall of Fame’r Richard Dent was no fan of Ditka, and he followed his coach’s advice not to live in the past. And Comcast SportsNet producer Willie Parker assured The Colonel that it was permissible to vote for oneself.
“Well of course I’m gonna include myself!” Richard said, laughing. “I mean I hold every record in that space there. Chicago has been known for great defense…one thing that you look at when you see that.”
Not a bad line of reasoning. Butkus was the only defense selection of Hampton and myself, so if you wanted to put Dent, Hampton, McMichael and Perry across the rock, you’d at least have a foundation pillar of the greatest NFL team of all time.
But that’s slighting a few deservings.
“You got some people way before my time that I probably really couldn’t, that played the game a different way, no face mask, with Papa Halas back in the ‘20s, that I can’t really elaborate on,” Dent said. “But to me, I think if I was back in those days, I would still look at the game a certain way. At that time you could only use your elbows. To me, you don’t have a chance!”
Richard does put up two of the gimmes but doesn’t include Halas (ooh, Colonel, Colonel, Colonel… .) or Ditka.
“I think obviously, the two running backs without a doubt when you look at Walter and you look at Gale Sayers,” Richard said. “[And] you look at Butkus. I feel that I fall right in there.”