Bill George is the man many credit, along with George “Papa Bear” Halas, for inventing the middle linebacker position. He played from 1952 to 1965 and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1974.
Upon the 75th anniversary of the National Football League, Dick Butkus was voted by his peers as the greatest defensive player of all time. He played for the Bears from 1965 to 1973 and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1979.
Mike Singletary is best known for his eyes, and as being one of the most intense players in the history of the game. He played for the Bears from 1981 to 1992 and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1998.
Brian Urlacher is recognized by many as the greatest athlete ever to play the middle linebacker position, and he is the presence that still looms over that position. He played it for the Bears from 2000 to 2012 and will likely be inducted into the Hall of Fame in either 2018 or 2019.
Jon Bostic ... what have you gotten yourself into, son?
“There’s a lot of stuff I’m still learning each and every day,” Bostic said.
Bostic isn’t going to be compared to the other “Mike” backers playing today, and he won’t be judged by how productive and effective the Bears defense is with him in the middle.
For as long as Bostic is the middle linebacker for the Bears, he will be judged by how he stacks up to that legacy and there may be little short of a Hall of Fame career of his own that will allow him to be considered successful.
Is that fair? Of course not. But it is the way it is.
Consider his Monday interview. There is a podium in the media room at Halas Hall and one in the interview room at Soldier Field. It is reserved for head coaches, quarterbacks, captains and stars.
If memory serves me right, the only Bears to ascend the podiums this year have been Marc Trestman, Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs, Matt Forte, Peanut Tillman, Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett, Earl Bennett and James Anderson.
Earl Bennett only got there by making the key touchdown catch against the Steelers and James Anderson had an important charitable cause to pitch.
When Kyle Long and Jordan Mills moved into the starting lineup, there were no podium appearances. The media caught them coming off the field.
For Bostic, it was the podium.
When I caught Bostic briefly on his way out of the press room, after his time at the mic, he was much more interested in discussing how his alma mater will do catching Missouri this weekend without their starting quarterback than he was the challenge in front of him.
The 22-year-old rookie out of Florida does at least seem relatively calm about the whole thing and is setting his goals realistically.
“I don’t want there to be any drop off from D.J. to me,” Bostic said. “I’ve got to prepare the best I can and just go out there and do my best.”
No one knew George, Butkus, Singletary and Urlacher would be the players they became when they moved into the starting lineup. Interestingly, while Butkus and Urlacher were both top ten draft pickst, George and Singletary were both second rounders like Bostic.
Whether he’ll ever earn other comparisons to any of the players he’s following is uncertain, but that he will be measured by them, unfair as it is, is guaranteed.
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.