Over the offseason, thousands of fans voted in our "Team For the Ages" contest to construct the best imaginable 50-man roster from the NFL’s modern era, which began in 1967. The votes have been counted, and we’re unveiling one player each weekday between now and the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season.
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Bears DL Dan Hampton
Hampton, or simply, "Danimal," is a Hall of Famer who still might not get the notoriety he deserves as the anchor of the 1985 Bears' groundbreaking '46' defense, the best in NFL history. A six-time All Pro, Hampton's toughness and versatility are his hallmarks — he had his knee operated on at least ten times throughout his career, and earned Pro Bowl recognition at tackle and end throughout a 12-year career beginning as the fourth overall pick in the 1979 draft.
They said it
"I've never seen a player with more ability. He amazes you and does it against the best."
— Former Bears DT Jim Osborne
Hampton became only the second player from the NFL's charter franchise to appear in a game in three separate decades. He led the Bears in sacks twice — in 1980 (11.5, before the stat was official) and '82 (9 in a truncated nine-game season) — and registered 70-plus tackles in three of his first four seasons.
Did you know?
Hampton started 48 consecutive games at end to begin his career before moving to tackle in 1982, when the Bears wanted to get fellow 1979 first-rounder Al Harris more run. All Hampton did was win PFW's Defensive Player of the Year that season, logging nine sacks and 71 tackles.
Pick any contest from the Bears' Super Bowl season and you'll likely find Hampton wrecking game plans from multiple alignments. Go back three years earlier, December of the 1982 season, and you'll see Hampton owning none other than Patriots Hall of Famer John Hannah with two sacks. “It’s not the first time I got my rear end handed to me, and it won’t be the last,” Hannah said afterwards.
And it was hardly the last dominating effort in '82 by Hampton, whose first two games at tackle included sacks in each, with Ditka saying of his debut, "I've never seen anyone have a better defensive game," before he went out and notched 16 (!) tackles — including 13 solos — the following week vs. Saints All-Rookie OG Brad Edelman.
Previous "Team for the Ages" player announcements