Daniel Oliver Hampton was born on Septemer 19th 1957 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
He played college football with the Arkansas Razorbacks from 1975 to 1978 where he made a total of 237 tackles with six fumble recoveries. He was chosen as part of the Razorbacks All-Decade Team for the 1970’s. Hampton was voted to the Arkansas Hall of Fame in 1992. He was scouted by Mike Ditka, who was at that time a part of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff and he recalls watching Hampton and recalls the Cwoboys coach, Tom Landry saying “what a great football player he was going to be.”
Dan was selected by the Chicago Bears in the 1979 NFL Draft as the fourth overall pick.
Following each NFL season, the Pro Football Writers Association compiles an honorary All-Rookie team, comprised of that season’s outstanding rookies in each position. Dan was part of that 1979 All-Rookie team and quickly earned the nickname of ‘Danimal’ due to his ferocious tackling style.
During Hampton’s twelve years with the Bears, their defence was ranked number one in the NFL, allowing the fewest rushing yards, total yards, fewest rushing touchdowns and fewest points to opponents while recording the most amount of sacks.
Hampton was a key part of the Bears Super Bowl success in 1986 alongside the likes of fellow Hall of Famer Mike Singletary. He was selected four times for the Pro Bowl and would probably have been selected more often were it not for the fact that his versality as both a defensive tackle and defensive end, meant the votes were split across both categories.
In 1992, Hampton was named defensive player of the year by Pro Football Weekly in a strike-shortened season of just nine games, recording nine sacks. In 1983, Dan signed a contract that made him second only to star running back, Walter Payton financially.
He repaid the Bears with another stellar defensive season in 1984 where he recorded 11.5 sacks and was voted NFLPA (A union that represents NFL players) Defensive Lineman of the Year and was selected for the third of his four Pro Bowls. That season the Bears set the record for most sacks in a season (72) and became the co-holder of the NFL record for most sacks in a single game (12) against the Detroit Lions. They also sacked Vikings quarterback Archie Manning (Peyton and Eli’s father) eleven times in that same season, which gives them joint claim to the second-most sacks in a single game too.
The following year, Hampton was credited with starting the ‘Gatorade dump’ craze, where coach’s get soaked in the drink after the game as players empty the tub over their head.
Career honours include a win at Super Bowl XX, a four-time Pro Bowl selectionNFL 1980’s All-Decade Team and a member of the 100 Greatest Bears of All Time. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.