February 5, 2011 Doors to Pro Football Hall of Fame swing open for Dent
By: Larry Mayer | Last Updated: 2/5/2011 6:38 PM
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Defensive end Richard Dent was one of the most dominant players of his era—and the Bears’ all-time sack leader will soon have a bust in Canton, Ohio, to prove it.
Richard Dent will be the 27th member of the Bears organization to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Dent on Saturday was chosen as part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011 by the Hall’s Board of Selectors at the site of the Super Bowl in North Texas.
“I think he deserves it as much as anybody else from the defensive end position,” said former Bears guard Tom Thayer. “You go look at any second- or third-and-long scenario or anytime the Bears were ahead and the other team was trying to pass to catch up. Richard was the biggest threat on the Bears defense.”
Dent, 50, was a Hall of Fame finalist for the seventh time in the last eight years. He will be enshrined on Saturday, Aug. 6 in Canton along with Marshall Faulk, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Ed Sabol, Deion Sanders and Shannon Sharpe.
Dent played 12 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Bears, registering 124½ sacks. He was named Super Bowl XX MVP, was an integral part of a championship defense that is considered one of the best in NFL history and was voted to four Pro Bowls.
“I think Richard is very deserving to be in the Hall of Fame,” said former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. “When you think of the Chicago Bears, you think of specific individuals that not only were game-changers but were a part of something that changed the history of the game. That’s what I look at as the Hall of Fame, is where do you fit in in the history of professional football, and I think he was one of the most athletic, most dominant defensive ends to play the game.
“His quickness, his agility and his tenacity were all things you had to take note of. Richard Dent to me was a defensive player that you had to pay the same kind of attention to that you did a Lawrence Taylor. I can’t pay him any higher compliment than that.”
Dent is the 27th member of the Bears organization elected to the Hall of Fame, most in the NFL. He joined the franchise as an eighth-round draft pick from Tennessee State in 1983 and blossomed into one of the NFL’s most consistently productive defensive ends.
The 6-5, 265-pounder led the NFC with a team-record 17½ sacks in 1984 before recording a league-leading 17 sacks in 1985 in helping the Bears win their first NFL title in 22 years.
Dent registered 10 or more sacks in five straight seasons from 1984-88 and in eight of 10 years from 1984-93. The only times he failed to reach double digits in that span was when he had 9 sacks in 1989 and 8½ in 1992.
“He was a big-play guy,” said former Bears center Jay Hilgenberg. “He had a knack for making huge plays, like when he flew over a blocker against the 49ers [to sack Joe Montana] or shook Craig James like a wet towel until he dropped the ball [in Super Bowl XX].”
The Bears compiled a 119-72 record in Dent’s 12 seasons. In his first six years, the Bears went 70-25 with no losing seasons, winning at least 10 games five straight years from 1984-88.
When Dent retired in 1997, his 137½ sacks ranked third behind only Reggie White and Bruce Smith. Dent also played for the 49ers (1994), Colts (1996) and Eagles (1997).
“I think I’m a pretty good historian and that I have followed the game extremely close ever since I’ve been involved and even before, and I’ve got a good perspective of what I think is right and wrong, and when it comes to the Hall of Fame, to me there’s no question that he belongs,” said former Giants quarterback Phil Simms.
Selected All-Pro four times and All-NFC five times, Dent still holds Bears post-season records with 10½ career sacks and 3½ sacks in a game Jan. 5, 1986 against the New York Giants. He was named Super Bowl XX MVP after registering 1½ sacks and two forced fumbles in a 46-10 thrashing of the New England Patriots.
“Look at how he performed in the big games,” Thayer said. “He was the Super Bowl MVP. You look at his performance in the playoffs and in the big games during the regular season throughout his career. But Richard was an every-game player. Big game or small game, he was always out there.”