The wait is over

LAKE FOREST, IL - Chicago Bears defensive lineman Dan Hampton was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday by the Hall's 38-member Board of Selectors.

Inductees must receive at least 80 percent approval from the board for election. In his seventh year eligible, Hampton becomes the 25th Bear to earn the NFL's greatest individual honor more than any other NFL franchise. He joins George Allen, Dave Casper, Jim Kelly and John Stallworth as the Class of 2002. Enshrinement is scheduled to take place on the front steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Saturday, August 3.

The 12-year veteran is the first Bear to be inducted since former teammate Mike Singletary was enshrined on August 2, 1998. During his distinguished career spanning three decades with the Bears (1979-90), Hampton battled through numerous knee operations to anchor Chicago's defensive line from both the end and tackle positions. Selected to the Pro Bowl at each position, the four-time honoree was chosen to play in the NFL's all-star classic after the 1980, '82, '84 and '85 campaigns. Hampton, the third-leading sacker in Bears history with 82, was a key member of the Bears' 1985 team that won Super Bowl XX.

Hampton joined the Bears after an all-American career at the University of Arkansas that concluded with him being named as the Southwestern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. The native of Cabot, Arkansas was a four-year letterman for the Razorbacks and two-time all-SWC selection. Selected in the first round of the 1979 draft with the fourth pick overall, Hampton made an immediate impact in Chicago as a consensus all-Rookie selection after staring all 16 games at left end while posting 70 tackles and 4.5 sacks. The first Bears rookie to start on defense since 1975, Hampton was also voted the 1979 Piccolo Award Winner by his veteran teammates.

Hampton established himself as one of the NFL's elite lineman the next year as he led the Bears with a career-high 11.5 sacks and the defensive line with 73 tackles to earn his first career Pro Bowl nod. Despite a switch to right end for 1982, Hampton was named to his second career Pro Bowl. He followed that bid with his third in 1984 when he equaled his single-season sack high of 11.5. In 1985, Hampton was tabbed for his final Pro Bowl after he started the first eight games of the campaign at right tackle before moving back to left end for the remainder of the year.

Remaining at left end for the next two years, Hampton continued his dominance in 1986 with 72 tackles and 10 sacks. In 1988, his final full season, Hampton moved to right tackle and registered one of the most productive years of his career as he ranked third on the Bears with a career-high 88 tackles and 9.5 sacks. Hampton retired following the 1990 season after playing 157 regular season games for the Bears, including 152 starts, while also starting 10 playoff games. A member of seven Bears playoff squads, Hampton was first honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors when he was named to the NFL's 'Team of the '80s.' Born on September 19, 1957, Hampton still resides in his native Arkansas.

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