Out of Mississippi State, the 6-foot-1, 225 pound speedy fullback and linebacker, Joe Fortunato, spent 12 seasons with the Monsters of the Midway from 1955-1966. He played every game in the 1963 Championship season and was co-captain that year. Fortunato and others on the defense were a formidable force to opposing offenses. The Bears would muster enough fire power to beat the Green Bay Packers twice that season.
Fortunato was drafted by Chicago in the 7th round in 1952, but joined the Bears in 1955 after serving in the military.
After football, he operated Big Joe Oil Company and lived in Natchez, Mississippi. He was the founder of the Joe Fortunato Celebrity Golf Classic which provides funds to the seven area high schools scholar-athletes scholarships. The generous college and NFL star also set up a scholarship given out each year to a student at Mississippi State.
According to Chicago Bears Chairman, George McCaskey:
“Joe Fortunato was not only a great player for the Chicago Bears, including being a part of our 1963 Championship at Wrigley Field, he was a key figure in one of the greatest linebacker trios in Bears history alongside Hall of Famer Bill George and Larry Morris.”
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