For years, The Chicago Bears predicated their entire
offensive philosophy on running the football down the opposing teams' throats.
Unlike some teams that utilize their fullback exclusively as a blocking back,
the Mike Ditka-era Bears took full advantage of the running and receiving
skills of the fullback. Actually, having a multi-dimensional player at that
position was a requirement, not an option.
Matt Suhey filled this role perfectly as a compliment to
Walter Payton from 1980 to 1989. Suhey's career was coming to an end by the
late 1980's. The Bears possessed 2 picks in the first round of the 1988 draft,
the extra coming from the Washington Redskins as a result of the Wilber
Marshall trade. Chicago spent their first pick, #24 overall, on Brad Muster, a
6' 4" 230-pound halfback from Stanford. Chicago would utilize Muster as a
fullback-the perfect complement to speedy halfback Neal Anderson.
Muster didn't start regularly until the 1989 season,
although he caught a short pass and turned it into a 50+ yard gain at Tampa in
1988. His role expanded in the '89 season, and by 1990, Muster' rushing,
blocking, and receiving skills were being featured. He led the team in 1990 in
Muster had a unique running style-many commented that it
looked like he was running very slow-but he was very elusive at the point of
contact. If he didn't high-step over the defender, he could veer off to the
left or right. And if the defender was not lucky that he made them miss-he
could lower his shoulder and be a human battering ram.
After Muster's breakout season in 1990, unfortunately, his
career in Chicago began to wane. Injuries plagued him throughout 1991. A
nagging hamstring injury, then a shoulder problem sidelined him for much of
that season, along with Neal Anderson. In 1992, Muster had shining moments,
such as a 50 yard sweep against Atlanta.
After the disappointing 1992 season, as Dave Wannstedt was
entering as Chicago's new coach, Muster expressed the desire to be a featured
back in a one-back offense. This did not fit Wannstedt's philosophy of a
featured tailback with a blocking-only fullback in front of him. Despite this
fact, the Bears put an equal money offer on the table for either Muster or New
Orleans' fullback Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, who were both unrestricted free
agents. Muster declined, Chicago signed Heyward, and ironically, Muster signed
with New Orleans. Muster barely touched the ball with the Saints due to
injuries, and retired after the 1994 season.
Brad Muster was a multi-talented throwback, and it is a
shame that he is not still playing football for the Chicago Bears.