Chicago's overlooked champions

"The Packers defense was good in those days," Ditka said. "I saw a pretty good one in Dallas. I saw a pretty good one with us in '85. I have seen some of the so-called great ones since. But I never saw one better than the '63 team. Maybe some were as good. None better."

The coaching staff also changed the defensive signal caller that year, going from 13-year veteran George to outside linebacker Joe Fortunato.

"Bill George got in an argument with Halas, told him 'I'm not calling the signals anymore,' " O'Bradovich said. "It might have been about Bill favoring Shaughnessy's way of calling signals. So Halas gave it to Joe Fortunato."

There were other changes, too.

Taylor, who led the NFL with nine interceptions, was allowed to blitz for the first time. Defensive tackle John Johnson recalls dropping off in zone blitzes while linebackers Fortunato or Morris would go after the quarterback. He said no other team in the league was doing it.

O'Bradovich remembers aligning the defensive ends closer to the ball. Players were given more freedom through the use of defensive audibles.

"We were doing a lot of things that nobody had done before," Richie Petitbon said. "We caught the league napping on some things. The credit has to go to George Allen on that."

George and Fortunato were two of five All-Pros on that defense. The others were defensive end Doug Atkins, Petitbon and Taylor. The defense also featured three future Hall of Famers in George, Atkins and defensive tackle Stan Jones.

Spring, 2013.

O'Bradovich works full time for his company Bear Oil.

His part-time job is as a postgame analyst on WSCR-AM 670.

He sounds like an old friend after every Bears win or loss. Especially after every loss.

"I keep going, kid," he said. "I just keep going."

His voice still booms. His forearms still look like fire hydrants. And when he speaks, he pokes a thick, meaty finger into your arm to emphasize a point.

He has survived prostate cancer and a hip replacement. He really should have surgeries on both shoulders and both knees. But as long as he can golf, swim and run in a pool, he figures, what's the point?

O'Bradovich has no plans to retire. "Once you slow down, that's when it starts to fall apart," he said.

The offensive objective of the 1963 Bears was to control the ball rather than to run up the score. The Bears scored more points than only four teams.

In a 14-team league, quarterback Bill Wade ranked ninth in passing yards and 12th in yards per attempt. He was criticized for his conservative play. He was booed at Wrigley Field.

After the defense would make a big stop or come up with a takeaway, O'Bradovich typically would instruct the offense, "Hold 'em."

"The defense would always give us a hard time," right tackle Bob Wetoska said. "To be quite frank, our offense wasn't spectacular."

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2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
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