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Bears former all-time leading rusher Rick Casares, 82, dead

Updated: September 15, 2013 11:32PM



The Bears organization celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1963 NFL championship team Sunday but also mourned the death of Rick Casares, a five-time Pro Bowl running back who played on the ’63 team and was the Bears’ all-time leading rusher before the Walter Payton era.

Casares, 82, died at his home in Tampa, Fla., on Friday. A second-round draft pick (18th overall) out of Florida in 1954, the 6-2, 226-pound Casares played 10 seasons with the Bears through 1964. He rushed for 5,657 yards and 49 touchdowns with the Bears.

‘‘What was all right, true and good about professional football was embodied in Rick Casares,’’ former teammate Ed O’Bradovich said. ‘‘Nobody loved the game more than him, and that was the day-by-day, year-by-year thing that he had.

‘‘He gained 1,000 yards when there were 12 games from the fullback position. So there weren’t too many people who did that. But God rest his soul. He’s a great Chicago Bear and a great football player.’’

Casares made the Pro Bowl in his first five seasons. He led the NFL in rushing in 1956, when he carried 234 times for 1,126 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games for the 9-2-1 Bears.

Casares’ franchise rushing record was broken by Payton in 1979. He’s the Bears’ third all-time rusher behind Payton (16,726) and Neal Anderson (6,166).

Mark Potash



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