The focus of the weekend is obviously what will transpire early Sunday evening but for one current Bear player and one former coach, the highlight could well come starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Thats when the annual Walter Payton Man of the Year is announced, with the choice from among cornerback Charles Tillman, Baltimore center Matt Birk and San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers. The award will be made in conjunction with the announcement of this years selections to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It is special, because I have yet to accomplish half the things this man Payton did, Tillman said. Being in Chicago, practicing at the Payton Center where all his pictures and stats are, I have first-hand knowledge of that.
Im in the same sentence with Payton, Ive won. Thats good.
The Bears hope that the Hall of Fame call comes for Dick Stanfel, their longtime offensive line coach and the chief architect of the 1980s line that included tackles Jimbo Covert and Keith Van Horne, guards Tom Thayer and Mark Bortz, and center Jay Hilgenberg.
Stanfel was named to the NFLs All-Decade team for the 1950s with Stanfel at guard for a Detroit Lions team that won the NFL title in 1952 and 1953. The Lions voted Stanfel their MVP for the 1953 season.