Chicago Bears: Recognizing one of their most underrated players

The Chicago Bears have had their share of under-appreciated players.

The Chicago Bears are a historic franchise. Throughout its storied history,  the organization has had so many all-time greats out on the orange and blue since its inception more than 100 years ago. Sometimes, though, when your ranks have been filled with the likes of Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, etc., it can be easy to overlook others who had very productive but perhaps underappreciated careers.

Such is the case with Bears’ running back Neal Anderson. Anderson had the unenviable task of following one of the aforementioned legends in Walter Payton. Payton, who finished his illustrious Bears career in 1987 was followed by Anderson, who was drafted No. 27 overall in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Neal Anderson was underrated for the Chicago Bears.

It’s no easy feat following a living legend — especially one who was as beloved as Payton was. But Anderson was perhaps the perfect candidate to follow Sweetness. His calm, cool, and humble demeanor might have had a tendency to mask his competitive spirit and tenacity. Make no mistake, though, Anderson was a bulldog.

He was so fluid between the tackles and was really good at changing directions. For his size (5-foot-11 and 210 pounds) he still had pretty good speed, with a 4.4 40-yard dash time coming into the league.

In his first four years replacing Payton (1988-1991), Anderson made the Pro Bowl. In that time he rushed for a total of 4,206 yards and 39 touchdowns. Over that same span, he averaged 45 receptions and 414 receiving yards per year.

In his career, he finished in the top ten for rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, rushing yards per game and all-purpose yards three times each. Four times in his career he finished in the top-ten in touchdowns. He was even ranked No. 57 in the Chicago Tribune’s top-100 Bears of all time.

He was also fortunate enough to appear in the playoffs five separate times in his career, even if the results weren’t great.

For a child of the 80s and 90s, he was one of, if not, the biggest star on the offense from 1988 until his retirement in 1993. Since retiring, he has led a fairly quiet life away from the game, which may contribute to him falling out of Bears’ fans consciousness, but make no mistake about it — Anderson was not only one of the most underrated, but also underappreciated Bears of all time.