By T.J. Troup
The summer of 1966; John Sebastian is singing "Summer in the City" and the Sports Illustrated Pro Football Issue is out! On the cover is the photo of Rudy Bukich
|Colorization by John Turney|
When Layne reclaims the starting job in the twilight of his career, Bukich is traded back to Chicago. Billy Wade is the starting quarterback and the goal for 1963 is to beat the Green & Gold juggernaut in Wisconsin. The Bears won three in a row on the road, but in the home opener against Baltimore Wade is simply terrible (5 of 21), and into the fray comes Bukich. He reads the coverage and expertly delivers an accurate pass to Ronnie Bull on a circle route. The young halfback scores on a 44 yard play as Mike Ditka makes one of the best open field blocks of the year. Don't believe me? Watch the film, or ask
Billy Wade has had a couple strong games in 1964, but Bukich, down the stretch that year, shines as the starting quarterback. Is this finally his chance after being drafted 11 years ago? Chicago looks out of sync in the three losses to open the season in 1965, but the Bears begin to play the best football in the league the next few weeks. Super rookie Gale Sayers is literally a Kansas Comet each week, but what about the Chicago pass offense?
Since we now have a 16 game schedule, let's use that as the premise for what "The Rifle" accomplished over the course of the last 5 games of 1964, and the first 11 of 1965.
Alas, with the failure of the Bears in 1966, and the trade for Jack Concannon; Bukich ends his career in Chicago as a part time starter, and has injury problems.
R.I. P. Rudy, I sure enjoyed watching you play for the Bears in the Coliseum.