Former Bears punter Bob Parsons dies at 72

Former Bears punter/tight end Bob Parsons, whose NFL record of 114 punts set in 1981 still stands, died last Friday at 72.

Parsons, a fifth-round draft pick out of Penn State, played for the Bears from 1972-83 — he was a tight end from 1972-77 and the Bears’ full-time punter from 1974-83. He played in 167 consecutive games — a franchise record at the time –before he was cut by Mike Ditka with two games left in the 1983 season after Ditka was miffed that Parsons had contacted the USFL’s Chicago Blitz about a coaching job.

Parsons, who lived in Lake Zurich in retirement, led the NFL in punts in 1975 (93), 1981 (114) and 1982 (58 in a strike-shortened season), when he averaged a career-best 41.2 yards per punt. The record for most punts in a season was tied by Chad Stanley of the expansion Houston Texans in 2002. Parsons led the NFL in punts inside the 20 in 1979 (26) and 1981 (31).

His 884 career punts is still the franchise record. His 81-yard punt against the Patriots in 1982 was the second-longest in franchise history at the time and still is third today.

Parsons was a back-up quarterback at Penn State who converted to tight end as a senior. He completed 7-of-13 passes for 131 yards on fake punts in his career, including 6-of-6 in 1976-77.

His 32-yard pass to Steve Schubert against the Buccaneers in 1977 led to Walter Payton’s three-yard touchdown that clinched a 10-0 victory during the Bears’ glorious mad dash to their first playoff berth since 1963. He also had a 22-yard pass to Doug Buffone in the Bears’ 42-6 victory over the Cardinals in the 1979 finale that clinched a playoff berth.

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