Chicago Bears will play in this summer’s Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Chicago Bears are headed back to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, chosen to participate in this year’s Hall of Fame preseason game, which will be played Aug. 1 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

An official announcement came Tuesday morning at the NFL league meetings, a move that became anticipated after the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024 was announced with heavy Bears representation during Super Bowl week in February. The Houston Texans will be the opponent.

The Bears have two inductees in this year’s seven-man class — defensive tackle Steve McMichael and return specialist Devin Hester — plus Julius Peppers, who spent four of his 17 seasons in Chicago. Others who will be enshrined into the Hall in August include pass rusher Dwight Freeney, receiver Andre Johnson and linebackers Patrick Willis and Randy Grandishar.

Hester will become the first return specialist enshrined into the Hall of Fame, the crowning achievement for a player who set the NFL record for return touchdowns with 20 while being selected to the Pro Bowl four times and honored as an All-Pro four times. He was also selected to the NFL’s All-Decade teams for the 2000s and the 2010s and was named to the league’s 100th-anniversary all-time team in 2019.

McMichael, who was elected to the Hall after being formally recommended by the seniors committee, has spent more than three years battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurological disease that has taken away his ability to speak or move. McMichael played 191 consecutive regular season games plus 12 more in the playoffs over 13 seasons with the Bears. He recorded 92 1/2 career sacks and was a key contributor to a 1980s run in which the Bears defense propelled the team to five consecutive division championships plus a victory in Super Bowl XX to cap off the 1985 season.

The Bears last played in the Hall of Fame game in 2018, the year of Brian Urlacher’s enshrinement. That marked Matt Nagy’s preseason debut as coach in a 17-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in what was Lamar Jackson’s first NFL game action. The Bears went on to win 12 games and an NFC North championship that season.

This summer’s Hall of Fame game will kick off the NFL’s preseason schedule and begin a weekend in Canton that will also include the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner on Aug. 2 plus the Hall of Fame’s “Grand Parade” and enshrinement ceremony on Aug. 3.

Participation in the Hall of Fame game will push the Bears’ reporting date for training camp up a week with the team likely to check back into Halas Hall the week of July 15. If the team does as expected and drafts USC quarterback Caleb Williams at No. 1, coach Matt Eberflus and his staff will have to decide how much to play Williams in what would become his preseason NFL debut.