Neal Anderson did not face an easy task when he joined the Chicago Bears cheap soccer jerseys.
Chicago took him in the first round of the 1986 draft after winning Super Bowl XX and he was pegged to be the eventual replacement for legendary running back Walter Payton.
Always overshadowed by Sweetness even after his retirement, Anderson was recently named one of the NFL’s most underrated players of all time by Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier.
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Tanier placed Anderson at No. 19 on his list, writing:
“Neal Anderson replaced Walter Payton. He took over as the Bears’ featured offensive weapon after the Super Bowl Shuffle years. Anderson was not Payton, and the later-era Mike Ditka Bears could never approach the heights reached by the 1985 Bears. So Anderson cranked out a few 1,000-yard seasons and played in some Pro Bowls, and that was that.”
Anderson spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the Bears and rushed for 6,166 yards with 51 rushing touchdowns and caught 302 passes for 2,763 yards with 20 touchdowns. Once he took over as the full-time starter at running back in 1988 he rushed for 1,106 yards with 12 touchowns. A year later he rushed for a career-high 1,275 yards with 11 rushing touchdowns. In 1990 he also rushed for over 1,000 yards with 10 rushing touchdowns.
The former Florida standout went to four-straight Pro Bowls between 1988 and 1991. Anderson retired after the 1993 season following a rash of injuries. At the time he was the team’s second all-time leading rusher behind Payton. He was eventually surpassed by Matt Forte.
Anderson spent the early part of his career in Payton’s shadow and was unfortunately never able to shake the stigma of being the guy who had to replace a legend.