Dan Hampton Chicago Bears
"I think a lot of it has to do with just attitude. I have to think it’s some type of insecurity. I really feel like I’m missing out if I’m not a part of playing on Sunday.”
Dan Hampton was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1979 following an All-America season at the University of Arkansas. An outstanding and versatile defensive lineman, Hampton would play 12 seasons with the Bears. Six times he earned first- or second-team All-Pro honors as either a defensive tackle or defensive end.
Nicknamed “Danimal” for his ferocious style of play, Hampton persevered through 10 knee surgeries and numerous other injuries as he became recognized as one of the game’s most dedicated players. Hampton was an impact player even as a rookie. In his first season he was credited with 70 tackles, 48 of which were solo efforts, as well as two fumble recoveries, three passes defensed, and two sacks.
In 1980, he led the team in sacks with 11.5 and his 73 tackles were the most by a Bears lineman. His play earned him the first of his four Pro Bowl invitations. In the nine-game strike-shortened 1982 season, Hampton, playing right end, led the Bears with 9 sacks and was second with 71 tackles. One major publication selected him as the NFC Defensive Most Valuable Player and he was also named to his first All-Pro team. Injuries slowed the promising lineman in 1983, but he still managed to record five sacks in just 11 games.
The following season, although he missed one game with a hyper-extended knee, his 11.5 sacks equaled his career best. It’s for the 1985 season, however, that Dan and the Bears’ defense is best remembered. That year, the stingy Chicago defense allowed just 198 points and shut out both opponents in the NFC playoffs. The Bears went on to destroy the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX, allowing just 123 total yards and sacking Patriot quarterbacks seven times. For his part, the versatile Hampton spent the first half of the 1985 season playing right tackle before moving over to the left defensive end spot for the remainder of the season. His aggressive play caused opposing offenses to assign extra blockers ultimately freeing up other Bears defenders to make plays. Even with the added attention, Dan still managed to record 6.5 sacks, force two fumbles, recover three fumbles, and defense four passes.
Although 1985 may have been a high point in his career, Hampton continued to play at a high level until finally retiring in 1990, becoming just the second Bear to play in three different decades.