So to this point, we’ve covered the www.BearsHistory.com list of best non-Hall of Fame Guards, Centers, Tight Ends, Punters, Safeties, Defensive Tackles and Middle Linebackers since 1977.? Atop these lists have been Mark Bortz, Jay Hilgenberg, Emery Moorehead, Brad Maynard, Gary Fencik, Steve McMichael and Brian Urlacher.
After a brief pause for training camp updates, we’re back with a changeup.? Today, we present the top most versatile players of the last 30 years.
Candidates: Robin Earl (FB/TE 1977-1982); Dennis Gentry (RB/WR/KR 1982-1992); Devin Hester (KR/WR/RB 2006-2007); Glyn Milburn (RB/KR 1998-2001); Bob Parsons (P/TE/QB 1972-1983); John Wojciechowski (OL 1987-1993)
Dud:? We have to mention Tyrone Hughes (1997) here, because this was supposed to be a huge find of Dave Wannstedt prior to the ’97 season.? Hughes actually returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in a single game in 1994 with New Orleans.? He was going to be used in all manner of ways in Wanny’s ’97 offense, but was a complete waste, rushing for 3 yards, catching 8 passes for 68 yards, and was a complete failure as a returner.? Guard Todd Burger actually pushed Hughes as he was coming off the field in one game, when the returner called a fair catch on a punt with plenty of room for a return.
Punter/backup tight end Bob Parsons starts off the list as the sixth most versatile Bear since 1977.? Parsons was the team’s full-time punter for most of his 12-year career.? But he was also listed as the Bears’ third quarterback much of the time, and actually started eleven games there.? Over his career, he caught 19 passes for 231 yards and 4 touchdowns.? Not bad for a punter.
Next off the list is Robin Earl.? Earl was the team’s starting fullback in 1977, then was injured in 1979.? The following year, with a logjam at the position and also needing to get carries for RB Roland Harper, the Bears converted Earl to tight end.? But he caught only 32 passes the next three years, and his career ended in 1983.
We’ll rank RB/KR Glyn Milburn fourth.? Milburn simply returned kicks in 1998, but in Gary Crowton’s 1999 offense was used as a running back and end-around receiver.? Had Milburn continued to be used in this fashion, we think he would have been phenomenal.? After faring poorly returning kicks in 2001, he was released.
Coming in at number three, here in August 2007, is second-year phenom Devin Hester.? This could quickly change depending on how his use on offense goes this season, but for now he’s simply one of the best kickoff returners in history.
At number two is John Wojciechowski.? “Wojo” played every position on the offensive line from 1987, when he entered the league as a strike replacement, to 1993.? He was purged by Wannstedt’s youth movement entering the 1994 season.
www.BearsHistory.com’s most versatile player for the Chicago Bears since 1977 is Dennis Gentry.? “Pinky”, as he was called by his teammates, was drafted in the fourth round of the 1982 draft from Baylor University.? He spent 1982-84 as a backup running back, finally getting some snaps in 1985 to spell Walter Payton.? In 1988, he was moved to receiver, and between 1990 and ’92 he truly became the NFL’s first “third down back”, a position that is ubiquitous in the 21st century.? But it wasn’t then.? In 2007, Gentry remains the second all-time kickoff return leader in Chicago Bears History.