Otis Wilson, Bears LB 1980-1988
by Roy Taylor © 2000
Let's hear it for the "Junk Yard Dog" himself, Otis Wilson.
In 1985, the year all Bear fans remember, we had Richard Dent,
Mike Singletary, Dan Hampton, and the Fridge, in no particular order. The
unbelievable Bears defense probably didn't reach its peak until fireball Wilbur
Marshall hit the starting lineup. Before most of the glorified '85 defense,
however, was the original Junk Yard Dog, Otis Wilson.
Otis Wilson was picked in the first round of the 1980 draft by
the Bears from Louisville. A year ahead of future (current) Hall of Famer Mike
Singletary, regardless, Wilson played as much a part of the dominating Bear
defenses of the mid-eighties as any other defensive player did. As much as
Wilson was a part of the '84, '85 and '86 defenses, however, this bright star
faded away much quicker than he should have.
Wilson was a solid, fast outside linebacker whose skills
improved with the addition of the streaking Marshall and the solidity of the
steadily improving Singletary. According to records, Wilson progressed slowly,
as the "46" defense did in NFL lore. Wilson's first official sacks came in
1982, when he finished with 2.5. In 1983, he amassed 2. In 1984, the year the
team set an NFL record with 72 QB takedowns (that still stands in 2001), Wilson
compiled 6.5. '84 was the year he began to stand out. With Al Harris manning
the other bookend linebacker spot, the Bears became almost impossible to run or
And then there was 1985. Who can mistake the images of one
Otis Wilson throwing down opposing quarterbacks and celebrating around their
lifeless corpse. Against New England (in the regular season), Detroit, and
Dallas, the original "Junk Yard Dog" could be seen nailing the opposing QB with
only a laugh at the end to punctuate the ease with which this defense could
inflict pain upon opposing teams. Against Minnesota at Soldier Field, Otis
grabbed one of five interceptions on the day and took it in for a score.
Against Dallas, in a 44-0 blowout, he took out the frustrations of a city
without a championship for 23 years on "America's Team" by dragging around
their quarterbacks by their jerseys for the day. Wilson amassed ten and a half
sacks that year, and probably created the "Junk Yard Dogs" persona. By the end
of the year, he had the entire linebacker corps, then the entire defense, then
the entire City of Chicago, chanting "Woof, Woof, Woof, which would resonate in
the stands of So ldier Field for the next decade.
Wilson played a major role in the 46-10 Super Bowl victory as
well, contributing on a defense that set many Super Bowl records in shutting
down the New England offense. 1985 would prove to be Wilson's Swan Song, most
aptly summarized by his lyrics from the "Super Bowl Shuffle: "I'm mama's boy
Otis, one of a kind. The ladies all love me For my body and my mind. I'm slick
on the floor as I can be But ain't no sucker gonna get past me. Some guys are
jealous Of my style and class, That's why some end up on their ---, I didn't
come here lookin' for trouble, I just get down to The Super Bowl Shuffle."
As much as he was an awesome Linebacker, he was an
irreplaceable character on a cast that will never be re-created, the 1985
Bears, Sadly, Wilson's pro career faded after the 1987 season. He was a
contributing factor to the record-setting 1986 Bears defense. In 1987, he
injured his knee, and fell out of favor with Mike Ditka during the player's
strike. He was cut in 1988 after eight stellar years with the Bears, and played
one more undistinguished year with the Los Angeles Raiders. Given that the
Bears were sorely lacking at the linebacker position in their last
championship-game run in 1988, who knows what might have happened if they still
had #55 terrorizing opposing offenses for one or two more years.