NFL Films president Steve Sabol apparently has a lot of respect for the Bears.
As a guest columnist for Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King today, Sabol listed some superlatives, and prominent Bears were mentioned throughout his piece. And his opinion means something: he and his father Ed created and nurtured NFL Films into the ultimate documentarian of professional football.
When I visited the headquarters in January, I was impressed at the number of Emmys throughout the building. It seemed there were so many, people used them as door stops and paper weights.
Anyway, Sabol picked Dick Butkus as the game's greatest defensive player and Walter Payton as the game's greatest running back.
Of Butkus, Sabol wrote: "A force of unmanageable proportions, he was Moby Dick in a goldfish bowl.
"His career as the middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears stands as the most sustained work of devastation ever committed on a football field by anyone, anywhere, anytime."
On Payton: "Jim Brown was the greatest ball carrier, but no one ever played the position of running back as completely as Payton.
"He was a crushing blocker. I saw him lift blitzers off their feet. When it was required, he was an effective decoy who followed through convincingly on all his fakes. He once led the Bears in kickoff returns. He's Chicago's all-time leading receiver. When he threw passes, he completed most for touchdowns. The Bears threw enough interceptions for Payton's skill as a tackler to be noticed and, in addition to all of that, he missed only one game in his entire career. And when he retired in 1987, he had carried the ball more times for more yards than any player in history."
Sabol also named Gale Sayers the "most thrilled ball carrier" and Brian's Song as his favorite football movie.
Check out the column at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/steve_sabol/07/16/mmqb/index.html?eref=sihp