Welcome to a new series I’m tentatively calling Forgotten Heroes: Remembering Chicago Sports Legends. With every sports fan in the world currently reduced to either Korean baseball or YouTube reruns, there would be nothing better than compiling some of the best plays and moments of some Chicago sports “icons”.
Sure, Hunter Hillenmeyer may not get the most love of any Chicago linebacker ever but he played a crucial role in solidifying the Bears’ 2006 Super Bowl team. Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs were a lethal one-two combo, no doubt, but that defense was so solid from top to bottom because it was anchored by guys like Hunter Hillenmeyer. Hunter came to the Bears from Green Bay at the beginning of the 2003 season during preseason. He played special teams during the 2003 campaign and recorded 12 tackles that year, his rookie season. The following year, he moved to starting strong side linebacker on defense and claimed 90 tackles and 2.5 sacks as the Bears went 5-11 under Lovie Smith’s first year as head coach. Hillenmeyer would prove to be an integral piece of Lovie’s Tampa 2 defensive scheme and alongside Urlacher and Briggs, the Bears boasted the most fearsome linebacker corps in the NFL.
Hunter played at 238 lbs and stands at 6’4″ but boasted serious athleticism. Check out this clip from the 2006 Super Bowl run with some lockdown defense that would make Lori Lightfoot in quarantine blush.
That play right there perfectly encapsulates what made that 2006 team so special. They had so many guys out there hustling, trying to make a play. They had some stars, sure, but they always had 11 guys on the field looking to make a play, looking to make an impact, and ultimately looking to win. Such a crying shame that they couldn’t seal the deal against Indianapolis in the Super Bowl but 9 Inch Nick will get us there in 2021 (if we have a season this year).
Tip your caps and raise a beer to Hill Dog and check out some highlights below. Let the nostalgia wash over you as you harken back to simpler times to where the Bears may have disappointed you but they at least won in the playoffs a handful of times. Let me know in the comments what you think the Bears record will be this year or who you would like to see be honored next as a Chicago sports Forgotten Hero.