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Olin Kreutz and Wilber Marshall Among Bears Legends Up for Hall of Fame Induction in 2019

Chicago Bears

The Pro Football Hall of Fame could be enshrining another Chicago Bears standout in 2019.

Olin Kreutz and Wilber Marshall are among the notable former Bears a part of the 102 modern-era nominees for the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019. Other Bears ties up for nomination include quarterback Dave Krieg (who went 6-6 as Bears QB in 1996), Richie Petitbon (Bears safety 1959-68), and Clark Shaughnessy (Bears Defensive Coordinator from 1951-62). Petitbon and Shaughnessy are among the 11 coaching nominees hoping to get enshrinement in Canton.

This is a step in the right direction for Kreutz, who wasn’t even on the 108-member modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018. Kreutz was consistently excellent and always reliable during his Bears career, in which he played in 159 of 160 games from 2001 to 2010. We figured he’d be worthy of an extended look when the committee reconvened in 2018, and that’s exactly what happened.

Kreutz made six consecutive Pro Bowl from 2001-06 and was a first-team All-Pro in 2006 when the Bears made their run to the Super Bowl. Playing center isn’t easy, but Kreutz was great in every aspect of the position. He was the leader on the line (and for the offense, in general), a strong run-blocker, and a steady presence in pass protection. He checks a lot of boxes, so you’re probably wondering what hurdles Kreutz will have to clear to join his former teammate Brian Urlacher in the Hall of Fame.

Well, what makes Kreutz’s case for Hall of Fame induction difficult is the challenge of assessing offensive line play. Grading offensive linemen is one of the most difficult tasks in football. Each player has different assignments and responsibilities, each team has different schemes and plays, and there isn’t necessarily a stat that helps quantify it all into a nice and tidy package.

It will certainly be an up-hill climb for Kreutz, but perhaps fellow center Kevin Mawae (a finalist in 2018) can help pave the way for the ex-Bears great and other centers in the future.

Marshall was a three-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro, and was a part of a pair of Super Bowl champions. His best years came in Chicago, with his best season arguably coming in 1986. That’s when Marshall made 105 tackles, came up with 5.5 sacks, hauled in five interceptions, forced four fumbles, recovered three, and scored two defensive touchdowns in an All-Pro and Pro Bowl season for a 14-2 Bears team.

The Bears, who drafted Marhsall with the 11th overall pick in the 1984 NFL Draft, allowed him to walk away as a free agent after the 1987 season. He would go on to play eight more years as his career wrapped up with stints in Washington (1988-92), Houston (1993), Arizona (1994), and the New York Jets (1995).

Kreutz and Marshall are a part of one impressive group which includes first-year eligible studs such as tight end Tony Gonzalez, safety Ed Reed, cornerback Champ Bailey, and linebacker London Fletcher. Those headliners are a collection of Super Bowl champions, transcendent talents, stars, and All-Pros. Overall, the modern-era nominees consists of 47 offensive players, 39 defensive players, five special teamers, and 11 coaches.

The selection committee will be trimmed to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January. Eventually, the committee will get together on the night before the Super Bowl to announce the Hall of Fame’s newest members, who will be enshrined in August 2019. Hopefully, Kreutz will come closer to getting his due respect.



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.