Tuesday, July 6, 2010

So Is It Nature Or Nurture, Harlon Hill?

So were the Bear quarterbacks so bad because they were throwing to Tom Waddle and Willard Dewveall, or were the Bear wide receivers so bad because Steve Walsh and Jack Concannon were doing the throwing?

The Bears' career-receiving-leaders list is a smorgasbord of mediocrity peppered with Brian Baschnagels and Marty Bookers, but part of that was by design. In the first NFL draft, while the rotten teams were drafting the Jay Berwangers of the world, George Halas drafted eight linemen; subsequently he perfected a devasting rushing offense.

Under Halas and the subsequent Halas-lite leadership, first-round draft choices have been spent on running backs, linemen and linebackers, with only the occasional nod to a wide receiver (c.f., the fast but perpetually disappointing Willie Gault).

Harlon Hill was the pinnacle of Bears wide-receivership from the '30s through the '80s, rivaled only by Johnny Morris for a couple of seasons. He was a genuine home-run threat who still ranks eighth all-time in yards per catch. That and three All-Pro nods won't get you into the Hall of Fame or even buy you a cup of coffee, but by Bears standards it puts you right at the top ... yelling at Sid Luckman to throw you the damn ball.

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