Feb 9, 2024 - Sports

Chicago Bears add big names to the Hall of Fame

Three side-by-side photos of Bears players Steve McMichael (L), Devin Hester and Julius Peppers in uniform.

Steve McMichael (L), Devin Hester and Julius Peppers. Photos: Jonathan Daniel/Allsport; Donald Miralle/Getty Images; Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has released its class of 2024, and the Bears will have three former players don the gold jacket.

Why it matters: Devin Hester, Steve "Mongo" McMichael and Julius Peppers join the ranks of more than two dozen local greats, ensuring the Bears hold onto their title spot with a league-leading number of inductees.

Driving the news: The Hall of Fame celebrated the players in a Las Vegas ceremony Thursday night, and they'll be enshrined in early August in Canton, Ohio.

The intrigue: It's extremely rare to have three players from the same team inducted in the same year.

What they're saying: "Having Steve and Devin become the 31st and 32nd members of our franchise enshrined into Canton is very memorable and special," Bears President Kevin Warren said in a statement.

  • "We would also like to congratulate Julius Peppers on his enshrinement and we deeply appreciate his positive impact on the Chicago Bears."

Get reacquainted with the new Hall of Famers:

Devin Hester

Photo of a football player running on field
Devin Hester returns the opening kickoff 92-yards for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, 2007. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Hester becomes the first prominent kick returner to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Between the lines: Hester became eligible two years ago but didn't tally enough votes to be inducted. He succeeded on his third try.

By the numbers: Hester was drafted by the Bears in 2006 and made his mark immediately, setting a record for touchdown returns (5) in his rookie season. He broke his own record the following season (6).

  • Hester set all-time records for touchdown returns (20) and added even more TDs when the Bears turned him into a wide receiver.
  • He amassed over 10,000 yards returning punts and kickoffs, as well as catching passes.

Yes, but: With all of Hester's accomplishments, many believed he wouldn't get into the Hall of Fame because his body of work was as a kick returner on special teams, which has been historically overlooked. Until now.

Steve "Mongo" McMichael

Photo of a football player sitting on the bench
Steve McMichael enjoys a respite on the Chicago Bears bench, circa 1991. Photo: Bob Fila/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

McMichael, a star on the 1985 Super Bowl team, was voted in by the Hall of Fame's seniors committee.

The intrigue: The defensive tackle was overlooked for years while other big names like Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary and Richard Dent got in.

  • McMichael continues to battle ALS, and his family and friends and the NFL community campaigned hard for him to get his due this year.

By the numbers: McMichael is third on the Bears' all-time sack list (95) and was part of a defensive line that may be the best in football history.

  • His wild personality also made him beloved in Chicago, where he played for 13 years.

Julius Peppers

Photo of a football player on the field
Julius Peppers in action against the Atlanta Falcons in 2011. Photo: Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Julius Peppers played for the Bears from 2010 to 2013 as part of his illustrious career, which included stints with Green Bay and Carolina.

By the numbers: One of the feared leaders of Lovie Smith's suffocating defense, Peppers ended his career with 159.5 sacks, good for fourth all-time in the NFL.

  • The defensive end was also selected to the Pro Bowl nine times.

Of note: He will go into the hall as a member of the Carolina Panthers, the team that drafted him and where he found most of his success.

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