Neal Anderson
Neal Anderson was born on August 14, 1964 in Graceville, Florida. He is a retired NFL running back who played for the Chicago Bears. Anderson was selected by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 1986 NFL Draft out of Florida, after the Bears’ victorious 1985 season. The 5’11” 210 pound back had power and speed and was highly touted coming out of college.

Neal Anderson #35

Player Info

Height 5' 11"
Weight 210 lbs
DOB: 8/14/1964
Running Back


NFL Draft

1986/Round 1/Pick 27

Career Highlights

Pro Bowl

1988, 1989, 1990, 1991

Team(s) As A Player

Chicago Bears 1986-1993

Neal Anderson credits his parents for instilling the values he needed to succeed. “They didn't allow me to cut corners. Those basic values are the ones that last,” Anderson says. “Athletic ability, that was a gift from God. When I was a kid, I could run faster and jump higher than the other kids. It wasn't anything I did. And I thank God for that. But the values, that's what I thank my parents for. A lot of people have the God-given talents and never make anything out of it.” (2)

Neal Anderson Replaces a Legend 

Walter Payton was the all-time NFL leading rusher when he retired. Not only that, he had reached mythical status as a back who played with more heart than most. These were big shoes to fill, but Neal Anderson was up to the challenge. During Payton’s final season, Anderson was so good that he became the team’s starting fullback so they could take advantage of his skills along with those of the Hall of Famer. “I didn't try to deceive myself,” Anderson says. “I knew I was coming in at the same position as the best running back of all time. I knew I had a lot to learn. While I was waiting on my opportunity, special teams came along. Fullback came along. If I get out there, no matter what I'm doing, I'm going to give it 100 percent. Otherwise, it makes me look bad.” (2)

After the 1987 season, Payton retired and Anderson was moved to halfback. Payton's absence left a leadership void with the Chicago Bears. Neal Anderson always has been a leader. But he said, "You can't just all of a sudden decide, OK, the leader we had is gone. Now I'm going to become a leader. The thing is, lead by example. I go out and work hard. That's the leadership Walter showed me. He was all-pro for all those years, and he had extremely hard workouts during the offseason. He could have come in easily as a starter, but he still worked hard. To me, that's leadership." (2)

Mr. All-Purpose Neal Anderson

Neal Anderson was as complete a running back as there was in the NFL. He ran with power and speed, was excellent at picking up the blitz, and had soft hands in the passing game. He was a coach’s dream and an opponent’s nightmare. During the 1988, 1989, and 1990 seasons, Anderson would amaze. "I saw Walter in him in the sense that he reacted to a pressure situation the way Walter always did," Ditka said. "He wanted the ball. He wanted to control that situation by taking the ball and going right at him." (3)

Four Consecutive Pro Bowls 

Neal Anderson had a three-year stretch that was amazing. During those three seasons he carried the ball 783 times for 3459 yards, caught 131 passes for 1289 yards and scored 40 touchdowns. Ultimately, his best season came in 1989, where he rushed for 1,275 yards, received 434 yards, and scored 15 touchdowns. Also, Anderson was selected to play in four Pro Bowls.

Neal Anderson’s Career 

Neal Anderson’s career was cut short by a feud with Coach Ditka and nagging injuries. People in Chicago could not understand why Anderson was not starting in the 1992 season. “I want to be the man,” Anderson said. “I'm not the kind that's going to grind out four yards with every carry, but I can make the big play. I can make things happen. If the game is close, I should be the one to break it open.” (1) Finally, after the 1993 season, Anderson called it a career. During his time in Chicago, Anderson amassed 6,166 rushing yards, 2763 receiving yards and scored 71 touchdowns.

By A. Goodin,
August 19, 2007

Neal Anderson Bibliography:

(1)  Anderson's Back; Two TDs Prove It (1992, September 7) Chicago Sun-Times
Now it's Neal's deal // Payton's place is in deft hands (1988, September 1) Chicago Sun-Times
(3)  Anderson's will to win wows Bears (1988, November 15) Chicago Sun-Times

Neal Anderson External Links: