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5 Greatest Running Backs in Chicago Bears History

Jason Schandl
The greatest Chicago Bears running backs of all time, including Walter Payton.
The greatest Chicago Bears running backs of all time, including Walter Payton. / Focus On Sport/Getty Images
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The Chicago Bears are one of the NFL's most storied franchises. That starts with their defense, but on the other side of the ball it's been the run game that has brought them success, despite a history of poor passing attacks.

With that in mind, here are the greatest running backs in Bears history.

Best Chicago Bears Running Backs of All Time

5. Thomas Jones (2004-2006)

Thomas Jones is one of the best Bears running backs of all time.
Thomas Jones is one of the best Bears running backs of all time. / Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

He only spent three years in Chicago, but Thomas Jones really left his mark. His 3,493 rushing yards rank No. 6 in franchise history, thanks to a second-ranked 77.6 yards per game. He may not have a Super Bowl ring, but he was a key part of the Bears offense in their 2006 13-3 season and Super Bowl appearance.

4. Bronko Nagurski (1930-1943)

Bronko Nagurski is one of the greatest Bears running backs of all time.
Bronko Nagurski is one of the greatest Bears running backs of all time. / Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It's hard to compare players across such drastically different eras, but any list of Bears greats would be remiss to leave off Bronko Nagurski. Stats from the 1930's aren't exactly reliable, but Nagurski was a four-time first-team All-Pro, helping lead the bears to three NFL championships while playing on both sides of the ball.

3. Gale Sayers (1965-1971)

Gale Sayers is one of the greatest RBs in Bears history.
Gale Sayers is one of the greatest RBs in Bears history. / Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Gale Sayers made an impact on the NFL immediately, winning Rookie of the Year in 1965, and he was a first-team All-Pro in each of his first five seasons. He led the NFL in rushing in two of those five seasons, and in yards per game in three of the five. Injuries derailed his career and he only played four more games after those five legendary seasons, leaving Sayers as one of the biggest "what could have been" stories in Bears history.

2. Matt Forte (2008-2015)

Matt Forte is one of the best running backs to ever play for the Chicago Bears.
Matt Forte is one of the best running backs to ever play for the Chicago Bears. / Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

One of the most underrated running backs in recent memory, Matt Forte is second in Bears history with 8,602 rushing yards, as well as seventh with 4,116 receiving yards. From 2008 to 2015, no player had more yards from scrimmage than Forte's 12,718.

1. Walter Payton (1975-1987)

Walter Payton is the best Bears running back of all time.
Walter Payton is the best Bears running back of all time. / Owen C. Shaw/Getty Images

Leading Forte on the Bears' all-time rushing list (16,726 yards) and receiving list (4,538 yards), Walter Payton is arguably the greatest running back in NFL history, let alone Bears history. He is second only to Emmitt Smith in career rushing yards, was a seven-time first-team All-Pro, won NFL MVP honors in 1977, and was a Super Bowl champion. Payton was also an incredible person off the field, which led to the NFL's "Man of the Year" award (which Payton won in 1977) being named after him. He embodied everything it means to be a Chicago Bear.


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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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