Richard Dent is a Hall of Famer

February 6th, 2011

This morning, when I sat down at my computer to read my email and check out the latest news online I actually fist pumped.  Not to anyone, there was no one around, just to myself.  When one of the sports heroes that you idolized as a child is voted into the Hall of Fame for his sport to some extent it validates your support of him and his team.

This morning I woke up to find Richard Dent the newest member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Richard Dent causing a fumble in Super Bowl XX

Richard Dent causing a fumble in Super Bowl XX

Dent played on the defensive line of the Chicago Bears for most of the 1980’s and into the ’90’s.  He anchored the fearsome Bears D-line with Steve McMichael, William Perry, and Dan Hampton (HOF class of 2002), played in front of Hall Of Famer Mike Singletary. (class of 1998)  Singletary was the face of that defense, and Perry was it’s mascot, but it was the hard work of guys like Dent that made them special.  Not to take away from everything the other guys did…

While Dent dominated offensive linemen in his prime, he ended his career in the typical fashion of a player who doesn’t want to admit that it is over.  After leaving the Bears after the 1993 season, Dent played four more years.  He played in two games for the 49ers, returned to Chicago for one year where he appeared in only three games, starting in one.  In 1996 he played all 16 games, 1 as a starter, for the Colts; and he finished up in Philly where he got into all but one game, but didn’t start any of them.

As a young boy watching the mid-80’s Bears crushing opposing offenses, Dent, Hampton, McMichael, and Singletary, along with Otis Wilson, Wilbur Marshall, Dave Duerson, and Gary Fencik were players who I thought all should go into the Hall of Fame.  (With all due respect to cornerbacks Leslie Frazier and Mike Richardson they made less of an impression on my young mind.)  As the team broke up, and the Bears returned to mediocrity I still wanted to believe that I was right to idolize these guys.  I wanted validation that my opinion of that core defense as the best ever was more than just home town favoritism.

The 1985 Bears Defense

The 1985 Bears Defense

Watching Dent be in the conversation and get passed over for the Hall since 2004 made me wonder if maybe that team and those players weren’t quite what I thought.  Had a bit of historical perspective changed the way people looked at the mid-80’s Bears?  Then, in 2008 Singletary got promoted to be the Head Coach of the 49ers.  People started remembering that Jeff Fisher, Head Coach of the Titans, was on the Bears injured reserve list than season.  Suddenly, as the 2010 season wound down, Frazier and 1985 backup linebacker Ron Rivera were hired to head the Vikings and Panthers respectively.  (And lets not forget McMichael’s run since 2007 at the helm of the Chicago Slaughter of the CIFL – The Continental Indoor Football League)

I am very happy for Dent and for the Bears and the little boy inside of me feels vindicated for his admiration of the 1985 Bears.  With Dent’s admission into the Hall of Fame yesterday, I might even be able to stomach a Packers win in tonight’s game, but probably not.

As a side note, Frazier and Singletary teaming up as coaches in Minnesota creates real rooting problems.  I’ve always been a fan of the 49ers:  I lived out there for a while, I started paying attention when Joe Montana was The QB in the league, and Jerry Rice.  Having Singletary coach the 49ers was the next best thing to having him in Chicago.  The Vikings are a different story.  I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be to wish them well in the same division as the Bears.

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