Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent, one of the most dominant players of his era -- and the Bears' all-time sack leader -- will soon have a bust in Canton, Ohio.
Yep, as you've probably heard, Dent is on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2011, selected by the Hall's Board of Selectors at the site of the Super Bowl in North Texas.
"I think he deserves it as much as anybody else from the defensive end position," former Bears guard Tom Thayer said.
"You go look at any second- or third-and-long scenario or any time the Bears were ahead and the other team was trying to pass to catch up. Richard was the biggest threat on the Bears defense."
Dent, 50, was a seven-time Hall of Fame finalist in the last eight years. He will be inducted Aug. 6 with Marshall Faulk, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Ed Sabol, Deion Sanders and Shannon Sharpe.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. While I was teaching at Valparaiso University last year, Mary Dent, the Bear's daughter, was in my public speaking class. The younger Dent, a communications major, is a VU volleyball star.
The last time I talked to the elder Dent was in August 2007 at the opening gala for the Four Winds Hotel and Casino in New Buffalo, Mich. Dent was among such VIPS as Bulls star Scottie Pippen and Bears teammate William "the Fridge" Perry.
Dent played 12 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Bears and was named Super Bowl XX MVP. He was an integral part of a championship defense considered one of the best in NFL history. He also was voted to four Pro Bowls.
Dent is the 27th member of the Bears organization elected to the Hall of Fame, most in the NFL. He joined the franchise as an eighth-round draft pick from Tennessee State in 1983 and blossomed into one of the NFL's most consistently productive defensive ends. He retired in 1997.
"Look at how he performed in the big games," Thayer said.
"He was the Super Bowl MVP. You look at his performance in the playoffs and in the big games during the regular season throughout his career. But Richard was an every-game player. Big game or small game, he was always out there."
Dent is also a fan of great recipes and food favorites.
He's not only a partner in the Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse venture, but has helped his mother cook and prep for her catering business over the years.
One of his first remarks, after he learned he'd made the Hall of Fame: "I know my mother is jumping for joy for me."
Though mom Mary Dent died in 1989, her spirit and enthusiasm lives on with granddaughter and namesake Mary.
Dent's first public appearance since his induction announcement is Feb. 21 at the National Football Foundation awards ceremony at Halas Hall.
Tickets for the event are $150 and available at nffchicagoawards.eventbrite.com.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 219.852.4327.