Walter Payton tops Chicago Bears list of Top 25 all-time best players

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 29: Running back Walter Payton #34 of the Chicago Bears carries the ball against the Washington Redskins during an NFL football game September 29, 1985 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Payton played for the Bears from 1975-87. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — When it comes to the century-long history of the Chicago Bears franchise, there were scores of players who made an impact on the team and fans.

Yet some left a bigger impression than others, and one stood out above the rest according to a new list released ahead of the Bears’ 100th anniversary celebration: Walter Payton.

On Thursday, it was revealed that running back Walter Payton was chosen as the No. 1 Chicago Bears player of all time in a poll created by longtime NFL journalists Don Pierson and Dan Pompei.

The poll was part of the “Chicago Bears Centennial Scrapbook” that is being sold by the team online.

Payton played 13 memorable years with the Bears and is second on the NFL’s All-Time rushing list with 16,726 yards. He surpassed Jim Brown’s old record for rushing in 1984 and held the record for 18 years until Emmitt Smith broke it with the Dallas Cowboys in 2002.

A seven-time All-Pro, nine-time Pro Bowler, and the 1977 NFL MVP, Payton helped the Bears to their first and (so far) only Super Bowl title in 1985.

He was named to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1993 — where he was introduced by his son Jarrett Payton, who is now an anchor on WGN-TV and CLTV Sports Feed.

On Nov. 1, 1999, Payton died of complications from primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver disease.

Linebacker Dick Butkus was the second best, followed by Bronko Nagurski, Sid Luckman and Gale Sayers in the Top 5.

Here are the Top 25 players in Bears’ history, as voted on by Pierson and Pompei.

  1. Walter Payton
  2. Dick Butkus
  3. Bronko Nagurski
  4. Sid Luckman
  5. Gale Sayers
  6. Mike Ditka
  7. Bill George
  8. Bulldog Turner
  9. Doug Atkins
  10. Danny Fortmann
  11. Dan Hampton
  12. Richard Dent
  13. Jim Covert
  14. Brian Urlacher
  15. Mike Singletary
  16. Bill Hewitt
  17. Stan Jones
  18. Jay Hilgenberg
  19. Steve McMichael
  20. Devin Hester
  21. Joe Stydahar
  22. George Connor
  23. George McAfee
  24. Joe Fortunato
  25. Ed Sprinkle
Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.