Mike Hartenstine played 13 seasons in the NFL, 12 with the Chicago Bears and 1 with the Minnesota Vikings (must we really acknowledge that last season?). Hartenstine was an underrated player who bridged the gap from the terrible 70's to the dominant 80's.
Hartenstine was part of the awesome 1975 draft class for the Bears. Among their 17 picks were Walter Payton, Hartenstine, Virgil Livers, Revie Sorey, Bob Avellini, Tom Hicks, Doug Plank and Roland Harper. That is a successful draft and Hartenstine would be second to Payton for overall careers.
I had the pleasure of meeting Hartenstine at the The National 2017. He was very nice and we talked briefly about his career. Ever humble, he talked about the greatness around him and the thrill of being on the Super Bowl team. Of course, he also mentioned the late, great Payton.
On a team filled with Hall of Fame calibre defenders (Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary, Richard Dent, Steve McMichael, Gary Fencik, Otis Wilson and Wilbur Marshall), some think Hartenstine might have been the toughest of all and I would not disagree.
It was especially cool to see Hartenstine in the Super Bowl. He survived some ugly earlier seasons.
Of course, I had to poke him a bit about ending his career in the purple. Actually, it is fairly common to see long-time players end their careers with a short stint in an unfamiliar uniform. Still, Hartenstine was and will always be a Bear. He politely shrugged off my jab (like evading an offensive lineman), but he admitted his heart was always with the Bears.
Thank you to the fine folks at The National for their hospitality. Thank you to Hartenstine for taking time to talk and for all you did here on and off the field.
Mike Hartenstine and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2017.