Food for Thought

With the 20th anniversary of the 1985 Super Bowl season, Bear Report takes a look at what players should be considered for the honor of having their jersey number retired.

The Bears have retired 13 numbers:
#3 Bronko Nagurski
#5 George McAfee
#7 George Halas
#28 Willie Galimore
#34 Walter Payton
#40 Gale Sayers
#41 Brian Piccolo
#42 Sid Luckman
#51 Dick Butkus
#56 Bill Hewitt
#61 Bill George
#66 Clyde "Bulldog" Turner
#77 Red Grange

The last players to have their number retired were Butkus and Sayers on Oct. 31, 1994.

The argument over the past decade has been that the team is running out of numbers to use with the active roster, but in actuality there are 86 at their disposal.

Here are five names worthy of consideration from the 1985 club.

#50 Mike Singletary
The middle linebacker was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998. He is the franchise leader in Pro Bowl appearances with 10 as well as being voted the Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 and '88. Defensive captain from 1983-92. He boasted 1,488 tackles (885 solo), finishing as the Bears' first or second leading tackler each of his last 11 seasons. He started a defensive team-record 172 games for the Bears, trailing only Payton's 184 career starts for the all-time team lead. No player has worn the jersey in a regular season game since his retirement in 1992.

#63 Jay Hilgenberg
He is fourth in franchise history with seven Pro Bowl appearances. The center played 12 seasons (1981-91) for the Bears after signing as undrafted free agent out of Iowa. Started 132 games and appeared in 160 before being traded to Cleveland leading up to the beginning of the 1992 season. Roberto Garza is the latest of a handful of players who have dawned the jersey.

#89 Mike Ditka
Mike Ditka was the first tight end elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988. Voted to the Pro Bowl in five of his six seasons with the Bears. His 427 career receptions were the most in NFL history by a tight end until 1980. He was also at the helm for the greatest season in franchise history. In eleven years as the head coach of the Bears he compiled 112 wins, six NFC Central titles, three NFC Championship games and guided the franchise to their only Super Bowl victory. A number of players have taken the number since Ditka, with Dustin Lyman being the most recent.

#95 Richard Dent
He has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame the past two years. After being selected by the Bears in the eighth round of the 198?? Draft, he became the franchise all-time sack leader with 124.5. Played 12 years for the Bears, including four Pro Bowl appearances. Several players have worn the jersey since Dent left via free agency after the1995 season with Ian Scott wearing it the past two seasons.

#99 Dan Hampton
Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002. Played 12 seasons for the Bears (1979-90), playing in 157 regular season games with 152 starts. He is third on the franchise sack list with 82. He was named to the Pro Bowl four times, twice as a defensive end and twice as a defensive tackle. Four players have worn the number since Hampton retired. Currently, Terry Johnson has the honor.

While the team is unlikely to retire any number mentioned above or anytime soon, the perfect time for Ditka would be during the preseason. He's the analyst on the local broadcast and would bring some intrigue to an otherwise slow part of the season. The most likely candidate is Singletary because no current player would have to give up the number. He will make his way to Soldier Field on Nov. 13 as the assistant head coach/linebackers coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Email your thoughts on the subject or any other players worthy of consideration to

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