Despite enduring yet another knee surgery, Hampton returned to answer the bell for the 1990 season-opener against Seattle. Those in and out of the operating room advised Hampton to consider retiring. He'd hear none of it, and vowed to keep playing as long as he could to help the Bears defensive return to its dominating ways.
Hampton's ravaged, degenerative knees, which had faced the surgeon's scalpel nine times --five surgeries on his left knee; four on his right -- didn't allow him to line up on every down against the Seahawks. But whether on the field or on the sidelines, No. 99 gave his teammates, and 64,400 Bears fans at Soldier Field, an emotional lift.
It didn't take long for "Danimal" to introduce himself to Seahawks quarterback David Krieg. On Seattle's first offensive play of the day, Krieg lined up in shotgun formation and was promptly sacked by Hampton and Richard Dent.
That play seemed to set the tone for the rest of the Bears' defense that afternoon.
With youngsters Trace Armstrong, Donnell Woolford, Mo Douglass and Lemuel Stinson joining Hampton, Fridge Perry, Mongo McMichael and Mike Singletary, it was like old times for the Bears' defense.
Seattle gained just 132 yards of total offense and sacked Krieg three times, while the Bears' secondary picked off three of his passes. The Bears held Seattle to just five first downs, and the Seahawk offense didn't covert on a third down situation the entire contest. Meanwhile, the Bears' time of possession nearly doubled that of Seattle's (39:39 minutes to 20:21).
Needless to say, the Bears won the game handily, 17-0.
Hampton gutted out the season, but it ended up being his final NFL campaign. The four-time Pro Bowler finished his Bear career with 82 sacks (third on the all-time team list) He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.