Two tough football players from ‘Da Bears’ among best No. 50-59 jerseys

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

50. Mike Singletary (Chicago Bears): Chicago Bears linebacker Mike Singletary spent his entire 11-year career (1981-1992) in the “Windy City.” Leader of the famed “46” defense, Singletary was part of the 1985 Super Bowl winner that is considered the best defense in NFL history, giving up 11 points per game. The NFL 1980s All-Decade Linebacker was extremely intense in both games and practice. When watching him play, his eyes seemed to be open a little further than everyone else’s. It was as if he was trying to take everything on the field in at once. The 10-time Pro Bowler, nine-time All-Pro and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1985, 1988) was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

Honorable Mention: David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs), Rebecca Lobo (UCONN/ New York Liberty), Dave Rimington (Nebraska)

51. Dick Butkus (Chicago Bears): The first in the long line of great Chicago linebackers, Butkus was the most feared player of his generation. Butkus was the third overall draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1965 coming out of the University of Illinois. In 1985, the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Fla., created an award in his name. The Dick Butkus Award is given annually to the most outstanding linebacker in college football. In 2007, Butkus was ranked 19th on ESPN’s Top 25 Players in College Football History list. He became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. After his career as a player, Butkus has become a well-known celebrity endorser, broadcaster and actor.

Honorable Mention: Randy Johnson (MLB), Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners), Trevor Hoffman (San Diego Padres)

52. Mike Webster (Pittsburgh Steelers): While other members of the 1970 Pittsburgh Steelers are better known and get the accolades, Webster was a constant from 1974 to 1988 at center. A four-time Super Bowl winner, Webster was chosen as the starting center on the All-Time NFL team in 2000. While the Steelers do not retire numbers, Webster’s number 52 has not been reissued by the team since he retired, and it is generally understood that no Steeler will wear that number in the foreseeable future. Webster was a 1997 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame before passing away in 2002 at the age of 50.

Honorable Mention: Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens), Buck Williams (NBA)

53. Harry Carson (New York Giants): Harry Carson was a dominating linebacker for the New York Giants from 1976 to 1988. He had an intensity that has been matched by few. Carson was the Giants captain for 10 years and led the team in tackles for five years. Carson was a key part of one of the best defenses in NFL history that was a primary reason for the Giants Super Bowl Championship in 1986. Carson was rated the number 1 ‘Inside Linebacker’ in NFL history, according to Pro Football Weekly. The nine-time Pro Bowler and 2006 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee was also one of the first to practice the “Gatorade bath” after the Super Bowl XXI win.

Honorable Mention: Don Drysdale (Brooklyn/L.A. Dodgers), Artis Gilmore (NBA), Randy Gradishar (Denver Broncos)

54. Randy White (Dallas Cowboys): Randy White was drafted No. 2 overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1975 NFL Draft from the University of Maryland. Thirteen years later, White compiled 1,104 tackles, 701 solo tackles and 111 sacks. What set White apart from his teammates was not his ability to make big plays, but his durability, intelligence and toughness. White missed only one game in 14 seasons. In 1994, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Dallas Cowboy’s Ring of Honor. White was also named the Super Bowl XII Co-MVP.

Honorable Mention: Brian Urlacher (Chicago Bears), Goose Gossage

55. Junior Seau (San Diego Chargers): The hard-hitting linebacker from USC has put together one of the most impressive careers in NFL history. After spending his first 13 years with the Chargers, where he was named team MVP from 1997 to 2001, Seau went to Miami for three years and has spent the last two season with the New England Patriots. Considered one of the best players never to win a Super Bowl, Seau is a sure fire Hall of Famer. He was a 1990s All-Decade selection and made the Pro Bowl his first 12 seasons in the NFL. Seau is currently a free agent. He was also a very talented athlete growing up in San Diego, Calif., he lettered in basketball, track and football.

Honorable Mention: Derrick Brooks (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Lee Roy Jordan (Dallas Cowboys), Dikembe Mutumbo (NBA)

56. Lawrence Taylor (New York Giants): Thought of as the best linebacker in NFL history, Taylor set a new standard for the position during his 13-year Hall of Fame career. Taylor recorded 132.5 sacks, the most for any linebacker. His vicious hit on Redskins QB Joe Theismann on Monday Night Football not only ended Theismann’s career but is also one of the most memorable plays in league history. Anyone that saw it will never forget it. Taylor is the only defensive player in the last 35 years to win NFL MVP. Outside of football, Taylor was in the main event of WrestleMania XI.

Honorable Mention: Chris Doleman (Minnesota Vikings), Andre Tippett (New England Patriots)

57. Clay Matthews (Cleveland Browns): Matthews had one of the longest careers in NFL history, playing in 278 games, the 12th most ever, from 1978 to 1996. Matthews comes from a long line of football players as his father played for six years in the 1950s and his brother Bruce had a Hall of Fame career starting the most games in league history. Clay was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005, along with his brother.

Honorable Mention: Dwight Stephenson (Miami Dolphins), Tom Jackson (Denver Broncos), Johan Santana (Minnesota Twins)

58. Jack Lambert (Pittsburgh Steelers): An integral member of the “Steel Curtain” of the 1970s, Lambert was the definition of intimidation during his 11-year Hall of Fame career. His missing front teeth are an unmistakable image of toughness that Lambert brought to the field. A two-time Defensive Player of the Year for the Steelers, Lambert played in nine straight Pro Bowls from 1976 to 1984. The four-time Super Bowl champion was a part of the 1970’s and 1980’s All-Decade teams. In 2004, the Fox Sports Net series “The Sports List” named Lambert as the toughest football player of all time.

Honorable Mention: Derrick Thomas (Kansas City Chiefs)

59. Jack Ham (Pittsburgh Steelers): Another linebacker from the Steelers of the ’70s, Ham was drafted out of Penn State, a school knows as Linebacker U, in 1971. Ham’s career statistics include 25 sacks, 21 fumbles recovered and 32 interceptions. He is one of nine players to have at least 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in their career. Ham retired in 1982 after 12 seasons and four Super Bowl rings. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

Honorable Mention: Seth Joyner (Philadelphia Eagles)