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Nine Former Bears on Hall of Fame Ballot

The ballot for the 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame class includes Devin Hester, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Ruben Brown, Muhsin Muhammad and Olin Kreutz from the Lovie Smith era.

It would be easy to make a case for several Bears in the 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

That's because there are so many of them on the ballot.

The list of 129 modern-era Bears nominated includues Devin Hester's second year of eligibility while players with impressive credentials like Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and Olin Kreutz are also on the ballot.

There also are several players who had stops in Chicago but were known largely because of their play elsewhere.

LB Lance Briggs

Seven straight times their 2003 third-round pick made the Pro Bowl and was All-Pro in 2005. Briggs was Hall-of-Famer Brian Urlacher's sidekick throughout career and had a knack for big plays. He made 16 interceptions, 15 sacks, 97 tackles for loss, forced 16 fumbles and recovered seven. Briggs, who made 1,181 tackles as their weakside linebacker, really knew what to do with the ball once he got it. He scored six defensive touchdowns and five came on interception returns, including two in 2012.

WR/Returner Devin Hester

The NFL's all-time king for return touchdowns, special teams touchdowns and punt return TDs, Hester will always be best known for taking back the opening kick of Super Bowl XLI for a touchdown, a feat never accomplished in the Super Bowl until then. Hester made it among the 15 finalists last year but did not get voted in, so there seems to be momentum building. A four-time Pro Bowl player and three-time All-Pro, Hester made 14 punt return TDs, five kick return TDs and a missed field goal return for a TD. His 21st TD return was postseason, so it doesn't go on the official record for combined return TDs, and that was the kick return in the Super Bowl. Hester made five TD returns in his first year (2006) and six in his second year. He averaged 11.7 yards for 315 career punt returns, which is ninth all time. He averaged 24.9 yards on 295 career kick returns.

CB Charles Tillman

Twice in Pro Bowls and once an All-Pro, Charles "Peanut" Tillman is responsible for the "Peanut Punch." An NFL cornerback from 2003-15, he dislodged the football 44 times, including 10 times in the 2012 season. Tillman made 38 career interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries, and scored nine defensive touchdowns, including eight after interceptions. He made 140 pass defensess and 930 tackles. Tillman played for the Bears from 2003 as a second-round pick through 2014 and then finished his last year in Carolina.

C Olin Kreutz

The Bears' third-round pick of the 1998 draft, Kreutz went on to make six straight Pro Bowls and was All-Pro in 2006 when he made the Pro Bowl for the last time. Known as the tough-guy leader of the offensive line, three tines while Kreutz was on the Bears they finished top 10 in rushing and five times top 10 in fewest sacks allowed, including No. 1 in 2001. He made 187 career starts.

G Ruben Brown

He played the last four years of his career with the Bears, including the 2006 Super Bowl season when he made the Pro Bowl for the eighth time in his career. A member of the Buffalo Bills from 1995-2003, he made the Pro Bowl there eight straight seasons and started 181 games in his career.

DE Jared Allen

A Bears player for 18 games in 2014-15 during a 12-year career spent mostly with Kansas City and Minnesota. Allen had 5 1/2 sacks with the Bears but for his career is 12th on the official NFL all-time sacks list with 136. He is 16th on an unofficial list which includes sack totals not entirely verified from prior to the time the stat became official in the league in 1982. Allen had 85 1/2 sacks in six seasons with Minnesota and 43 in four seasons with Kansas City. He led the NFL with 22 in 2011 and 15 1/2 in 2007.

WR Muhsin Muhammad

A two-time Pro Bowl and once an All-Pro receiver, he spent three of his 14 NFL seasons with the Bears, including the 2006 Super Bowl year. The other 11 years were with the Carolina Panthers, and he led the NFL in receiving yards (1,405) and touchdowns (14) there in 2004 one season before joining the Bears as a free agent. He made 188 career starts, led the NFL in receptions with 102 in 2000, and made 860 receptions for 11,438 yards and 62 touchdowns. With the Bears, he made 164 receptions for 2,183 yards and 12 TDs from 2005-2007.

QB Dave Krieg

He spent one season, in 1996, with the Bears in a 19-year NFL career that included 175 starts and three Pro Bowls, all with his original team, the Seattle Seahawks. For his career, Krieg completed 3,105 of 5,311 for 38,147 yards with 199 touchdowns and 80 interceptions. He started 12 games in 1996 after an injury to Erik Kramer with the Bears and was 226 of 377 for 2,278 yards and 14 TDs with 12 interceptions.

DL Clyde Simmons

A 15-year defensive lineman in the NFL who was part of a great defensive front with Philadelphia, he spent the last two seasons in Chicago in 1999 and 2000 as a situational player. Simmons made 121 1/2 career sacks, including 7 1/2 with the Bears. His career total is 21st officially all time, 30th unofficially. He led the NFL in 1992 with Philadelphia with 19 and twice made the Pro Bowl and was All-Pro. He also played for Arizona, Jacksonville and Cincinnati.

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