CHICAGO (CBS) — The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selection committee has picked four current or former Chicago Bears for the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team, including linebacker Khalil Mack, defensive end Julius Peppers, and kick returners Devin Hester and Cordarrelle Patterson. The list is restricted to 53 of the NFL’s best players. Eligibility was limited to players selected to a Pro Bowl, Associated Press All-Pro team or Pro Football Writers Association all-conference team.
Current Bears linebacker Khalil Mack arrived in Chicago with an impressive resume that he continued to build upon. In 2014, the Oakland Raiders selected the 6’3″ 269-pound linebacker out of the State University of New York at Buffalo with the fifth overall pick. He quickly became one of the NFL’s fiercest defenders, piling up 40.5 sacks and 304 tackles in four seasons and winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2016. The Bears traded for Mack before the 2018 season, signing him to a six-year $141 million deal, the richest to date for an NFL defender. He’s tallied 21 sacks and 94 tackles over two seasons for the stronger Chicago defense. Mack has been selected to five straight Pro Bowls.
Julius Peppers’ career spanned most of the last two decades. The Carolina Panthers drafted the 6’7″ 295-pound defensive end in the 2002 NFL Draft with the second pick of the first round. By the time the Bears signed him to a six-year $91.5 million contract in 2010, Peppers was already a member of the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team and still among the NFL’s premiere pass rushers. He would continue to excel in Chicago, picking up 37.5 sacks, 175 tackles and three Pro Bowl nods in his four years with the team, all while never missing a regular-season game. The Bears released Peppers after the 2013 season, but the aging defender remained a productive and durable pass rusher. In three seasons with the Green Bay Packers and two more with the Panthers, he collected 41 more sacks.
Devin Hester, the Bears’ second-round pick out of Miami in 2006, arrived in town as a cornerback but made his presence felt as a return specialist. Opposing teams quickly learned to kick away from Hester, who returned three punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns in his rookie season. Hester’s success in the return game continued well into the 2010s.
Cordarrelle Patterson secured his reputation as a dangerous return man with the Minnesota Vikings. In 2013, in his second NFL game, the wide receiver out of Tennessee retuned the opening kickoff 105 yards against the Bears. In Week 8, this time against the Green Bay Packers, Patterson returned the opening kickoff 109 yards. The latter set an NFL record for the longest play that can never be broken. Patterson joined the Bears for the 2019 season, averaging 29.5 yards on his 28 kick returns, one of which went 102 yards for a touchdown.
The selection committee first started picking all-decade teams in 1969 to celebrate the NFL’s 50th season. It’s been a tradition ever since.