The Bears season is now over, and the Chicago Bears' fortunes ebbed and flowed throughout it. They started off slow. Then in mid-season quickly gained steam only to lose a few key players and fall flat at the end of the season.
Ebbing and flowing is a great way to describe the real estate market in recent years, which has taken homeowners on quite a ride. All kinds of athletes – including current and former Bears – have not been immune from that ride. Former Bears have taken major losses on their home sales, and several past Bears (David Terrell, R.W. McQuarters, Leon Joe) even have had their homes become subjects of foreclosure proceedings.
With such recent real estate pain, are many current Bears actually homeowners in the Chicago area? Perhaps surprising is that the answer is yes. No fewer than 11 current Bears – plus head coach Lovie Smith – own houses in the Chicago area. Let’s do a head-first, Walter Payton-style dive into where today’s Bears hang their helmets—er, hats.
The Northern Suburbs Are the Place to Be
Historically, most Bears have chosen to settle in the northern suburbs, in order to be close to the Bears’ Halas Hall indoor and outdoor practice facility in Lake Forest. Some past Bears have chosen to live downtown, but most prefer the leafy environs of Lake County, with a few of the better-paid players selecting North Shore communities along Lake Michigan. Many homeowning Bears players have selected fairly unremarkable suburbs (think Vernon Hills, Grayslake, Libertyville, Lindenhurst and Lake Villa) and have bought modest homes – some of which are even town homes. In many cases, the modest housing is borne of the fact that these players have another, more permanent home elsewhere in the U.S.
Interestingly, not a single current Bear lives in downtown Chicago. This is a departure from the past, when several former Bears (Marty Booker, R.W. McQuarters, David Terrell) opted to reside downtown.
The current Bears player who has paid the most for a house is linebacker Brian Urlacher. He shelled out $2.312 million in early 2004 for his 6,829-square-foot house in tiny Mettawa (the same small suburb where until recently, former Bears offensive tackle John Tait had owned a home as well). Urlacher’s mansion, which was built in 1987, sits on a whopping 9.39 acres.
After Urlacher, the Bear who has paid the most for a house is linebacker Lance Briggs. He purchased a newly built, five-bedroom, 5,158-square-foot house in Northfield for $2.3 million in 2008. (Briggs continues to own a small town house in Northbrook that he purchased in 2006 for $371,500.)
Bears wide receiver and punt return specialist Devin Hester also has paid more than $2 million for his house – and, he’s also the current Bear who happens to have the most extensive Chicago-area real estate portfolio. The master punt returner spent $2.2 million in October 2008 for a mansion in Riverwoods. That’s on top of a house he purchased in Gurnee for $436,000 in late 2006 and a house in Lake in the Hills that he bought in early 2007 for $205,000. Hester continues to own all three homes.
Bears defensive end Julius Peppers is the Bears homeowner whose seller far and away was the most famous. Peppers paid $1.8 million in early 2010 to buy his 12-room, 5,923-square-foot home in Highland Park from retired Chicago Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong. B.J. owned that house for more than 15 years, but barely made a profit on it; he had purchased it in 1994 for $1.599 million.
Other current Bears who have purchased area dwellings for $1 million or more include cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman, who paid $1,249,500 in 2007 to buy his house in Green Oaks (which most recently has been listed for $1.225 million) and placekicker Robbie Gould, who paid $1.2 million in early 2009 for $1.2 million. Tackle/long snapper Patrick Mannelly just misses, having paid $961,000 in 2008 to buy a house in Libertyville. Ditto for Bears center/guard Roberto Garza, who paid $865,000 in 2006 for his house in Waukegan, and for running back Matt Forte, who paid $830,000 in 2008 for his house in Vernon Hills.
Modesty Is a Virtue
Some Bears players live in far more ordinary residences. Such is the case for cornerback Corey Graham and wide receiver Johnny Knox. Graham paid $349,000 in 2008 to buy his four-bedroom, house in Lindenhurst’s Grant’s Grove neighborhood, while Knox forked over $332,957 for his three-bedroom townhome in Gurnee.
One of the highest-profile Bears, quarterback Jay Cutler, does not own in the Chicago area at this time. However, for the last two seasons, Cutler has been renting a fairly modest, 2,188-square-foot home in Lake Forest.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith has owned his Chicago-area house longer than any homeowning Bear with the exception of Urlacher. Lovie paid $1.625 million in late 2004 to buy his 4,851-square-foot house in Lake Forest. Interestingly, Lovie is not the only current or former Bears head coach to be a Lake Forest homeowner; former head coach Dick Jauron, who now is the Cleveland Browns’ defensive coordinator, has owned his 3,204-square-foot town home in Lake Forest’s Conway Farms neighborhood since buying it in 2006 for $766,000.
Real Estate Agents with Connections to the Bears
This is a fairly tricky subject, since any discussion of agents may suggest an endorsement by us of any of these agents (and none has authorized this discussion). So, we will leave agents’ agencies (and contact information) out. Instead, we’ll simply note that two former Bears themselves, Emery Moorehead and Ahmad Merritt, have gone into real estate are licensed agents. Moorehead and Merritt both occasionally represent current and former Bears. Also, the wife of the recently traded, former Bears tight end Greg Olsen also has represented several players in recent years.
Post by Bob Goldsborough