The Chicago Bears are known for a lot of things: being the “Monsters of the Midway,” passing on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes to draft Mitchell Trubisky, the Superbowl Shuffle, and a variety of Saturday Night Live skits involving the word “Ditka.”
But one name they’re not particularly known for is that of a former record-holding signal caller who played a different brand of football than the NFL was known for, racking up more robust rushing statistics than any other quarterback in his era.
Despite that the fact that he remains a relative unknown in the sports world, his name resides on the all-time charts next to generational quarterback talents like Michael Vick and most recently Lamar Jackson.
His name: Bobby Douglass, and while he didn’t win a Super Bowl title or even make a Pro Bowl, he certainly made his contribution to the sport in his memorable seven-year stint with Chicago’s NFL team.
Bobby Douglass: The NFL’s Forgotten QB Rushing King
In 2006, Douglass watched as one of the most exciting athletic talents in decades, Michael Vick, broke his career QB rushing record.
The record had been held for 34 years by Douglass, who originally broke it in 1972 with 968 yards on the ground, along with eight touchdowns as part of a shorter 14-game schedule.
A 6-foot-4 southpaw with a cannon for an arm and impeccable vision and speed for a quarterback, Douglass “redefined the position” according to many analysts who watched the former second round pick work his magic on the ground.
While he never came close to realizing his potential with a career passer rating of less than 50 and a TD/INT ratio of 36 to 64, Douglass changed the game through sheer force of will, setting yet another NFL rushing record for a QB that was recently broken by Baltimore phenom Lamar Jackson.
Check out highlights and analysis of Douglass from NFL Films in the clip collection below (he was not afraid to stop running even after having his helmet ripped off multiple times):
Douglass Rushing Attempts Record Broken By Lamar Jackson
In 2018, Jackson broke Douglass’ record for most rushing attempts in a season, besting his mark of 141 with 147 rushing attempts of his own on the season.
The accomplishment may end up being a footnote in Jackson’s promising young career, but for Douglass it was a glimpse of the impact he made, especially considering how difficult it is for quarterbacks to carry the ball in the face of the ever-present specter of injury in the modern NFL game.
It might not have exactly been Roger Maris overtaking Babe Ruth for most home runs in a season, but it remains an important piece of hidden trivia highlighting the ongoing evolution of the game and the quarterback position, as well a testament to just how underappreciated Douglass’ contributions to the game were during his unsung career with the Bears.
It takes a lot of courage and a lot of confidence to break the mold, and Douglass certainly did that.
A tall, crafty left-hander with a cannon for an arm and surprising elusiveness, Douglass has a mixture of Steve Young and Fran Tarkenton in his game, although he never came close to living up to his potential.
Douglass was certainly confident in his abilities, however, telling CSNChicago.com that he would have a field day running the ball in today’s NFL.
“I’m not sure I wouldn’t have a 1,500-yard (rushing) season, because they spread the field so much,” Douglass said. “It’s so much easier to scramble. Plus, they’ve put a lot of rules in that help the quarterback and help the line with things they couldn’t do in the 70s.”
Check out some more of his highlights below and I’m sure you’ll agree: they don’t make ‘em like Bobby Douglass anymore:
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