Bears legends Jimbo Covert and Ed Sprinkle were named senior members of the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame’s special 20-person centennial class Wednesday.
Covert was the Bears’ starting left tackle for nine seasons (1983 to ’91), the first four of which he helped pave the way for Walter Payton and the NFL’s leading rushing attack. Selected sixth overall in the 1983 draft out of Pitt, Covert was a Day 1 starter, two-time All-Pro and member of the NFL’s All-Decade team of the ’80s.
“It’s just an awesome honor,” Covert said Wednesday on WSCR AM-670 after receiving the call from Hall of Fame president David Baker.
“I’m almost speechless. I’m usually not that way, but today that definitely happened.”
Covert wildly exceeded the great expectations that came with being immediately inserted into the starting lineup on fellow former first-round pick Jim McMahon’s blind side and as the anchor of a unit that blocked for arguably the greatest running back in NFL history.
“A lot was expected out of me and I felt like I had a lot to live up to,” he said. “I did the best I could.”
Covert is the fifth member of the iconic 1985 Bears to enter Canton. He retired after nine seasons because of a chronic back injury.
Fellow Hall of Famer and former teammate Richard Dent said last summer Covert was the best he competed against.
“To not have one [’85 Bears] offensive lineman as a Hall of Famer – people assume Walter would gain yards with no one blocking,” Dent said. … “I just think it’s worthy, without a doubt, to have a guy like Jimbo Covert, who just happened to be on my team. I knew I wasn’t going to face anyone better than him. ... To me, I’m not playing any favoritism. I just know I would not see this guy week in and week out. I’m glad he was on my team.”
Nicknamed the “meanest man in football,” Sprinkle played all 12 of his NFL seasons (1944 to ’55) with the Bears and was once described by George Halas as “the greatest pass rusher I’ve ever seen.” The fiery defensive end was voted to four Pro Bowls and the NFL’s All-Decade team of the ’40s, and was a member of the Bears’ 1946 NFL championship team. He died in 2014 at the age of 90.
Covert and Sprinkle were elected among 20 senior finalists who last played more than 25 years ago by a special panel last week. The Pro Football Hall of Fame welcomes this year a 20-member “Centennial Slate” commemorating the league’s 100th year in existence.
Covert and Sprinkle are the 29th and 30th ex-Bears in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which leads the NFL.