Punter you say?? Boring you in the beginning of these lists?? Hey, we can’t give away all the money positions in the beginning.
Besides, don’t underestimate the position.? Dave Wannstedt felt so strongly about the position that he spent a second round pick on Todd Sauerbrun in 1995.? (Great move there).? And more importantly, my key play of the 2006 NFC Championship win was Brad Maynard’s bomb in the third quarter that pinned the Saints inside their 10, setting the stage for the safety that turned the tide of the game.
And I can’t help reminding you of former offensive coordinator John Shoop’s alluding to the offense feeling good about putting the punter in a good position on fourth down.? I’ll stop shy of saying he thought the goal of his offense was to set up good punts, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think that’s exactly what he said.
Candidates:? Maury Buford (1985-1986, 1989-1991); Chris Gardocki (1991-1994); Brad Maynard (2001-2007); Bob Parsons (1972-1983); Todd Sauerbrun (1995-1999)
Sauerbrun is the first to be launched in my game of elimination.? “Hang Time”, as his vanity license plate read during his rookie season, could absolutely murder the ball and given better circumstances could have become the next Ray Guy.? He even commented that Guy was who he wanted to emulate.? But that license plate led to vicious hazing by veterans and a poor rookie season.? It is even rumored to have led to the 1996 cutting of popular veteran Kevin Butler, never one to shy away from hazing the rookie.? Sauerbrun improved the following season but hurt his knee in 1998, and it was decided not to give him a big-money contract in 2000 when he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Next to go are Gardocki and Buford.? Buford had a long career with the Bears including several different stints, but was merely servicable as evidenced by the team’s many attempts to replace him.? Gardocki was drafted in the third round in 1991 in one of those attempts.? He was injured in training camp that year, giving Buford one more season, but took the job in 1992.? Gardocki was an above-average player at the position but signed a big-money deal with Indianapolis in 1995, leading to the drafting of Sauerbrun.
Coming in at #2 is Parsons.? He had a twelve-year career with the Bears, from 1972-1983, set an NFL record that still stands with 114 punts in 1981 (not really a great record to have), and launched an 81-yard kick in 1982.? He also served as a backup tight end and the team’s third quarterback when needed.
www.BearsHistory.com’s best Bears punter of the last 30 years is Brad Maynard.? Maynard has been the epotime of consistency in his seven years with Chicago.? He has had one rather down year in his tenure, but otherwise has been? Mr. Reliable, and signed the most lucrative contract extension for a Bears punter in 2004, keeping him with the team through the 2009 season.