Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011
Posted 6:39 p.m. Updated 9:15 p.m.
By John Mullin
Its about time.
That was the feeling of former teammate Ron Rivera, the new head coach of the Carolina Panthers, and probably the sentiment that best sums up the feeling about Richard Dent being elected Saturday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Dent heard the news from his daughter via phone call and we had some tears over it all, Dent told CSNChicago.com. I had my knee on the floor and my head on the bed. Your heart kind of skips a beat when it finally happens. But it was worth the wait.
He was arguably the greatest player on the greatest single defense in the history of the NFL. And on Saturday the NFL agreed, as Dent joined running back Marshall Faulk, cornerback Deion Sanders, NFL Films legend Ed Sabol, tight end Shannon Sharpe, linebacker Chris Hanburger and linebacker Les Richter, who died last June, in the Class of 2011 for pro footballs highest individual honor.,
WATCH: Former teammate Tom Thayer reacts
Dent was a finalist nine times before finally gaining the necessary votes from the group of electors. But if there were bitter feelings in the past for not being selected, they were nowhere to be found this time.
Its just a great, great feeling, Dent said. It couldnt have been any better, to have your career recognized. And Im so grateful for all of my teammates who were so much a part of everything.
Few once would have projected Dent to reach the Olympus of his game. He never played football before his junior year of high school because he was forced to work to help the family make ends meet. He went on to play at Tennessee State and catch the eye of Bears scout Bill Tobin, who lobbied for the team to grab him in the second round of the 1983 draft.
Then-GM Jim Finks resisted and the Bears finally grabbed Dent in the eighth round along with Iowa defensive tackle Mark Bortz, who would go on to Pro Bowl honors as a guard on the great 1980s Bears teams.
The Bears spent 5,000 on dental work for the 227-pound pass rusher, who wasnt able to add weight because of problems that made eating an ordeal.
What they got for their investment was, now officially, one of the greatest players in NFL history.
Dent joins endtackle Dan Hampton and linebacker Mike Singletary from the great Bear defenses of the era in the Hall of Fame. Walter Payton was enshrined in 1993.
WATCH: Moon on Dent's impact on the game
In 12 seasons with the Bears, Dent accumulated 124.5 sacks in 170 games. In eight of those seasons, Dent finished with more than 10 sacks and finished with a career-best 17.5 in 1984.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.