By Fred Cromartie, Ed.D. |
Today, when I received word that my beloved Chicago Bears could be on the market for sale, I had to make sure that I read the entire article. Being from the Chicago area and growing up believing all things in the Chicago Bears I was saddened to learn that one of the oldest and original member teams of the NFL could be headed to the open market for sale due to internal family strife.
The founding of the Chicago Bears by George Halas makes it one of the most prestigious franchises of the NFL. All Chicagoans know that George Halas “Pa Bear” was associated with the Chicago Bears and the National Football League from their inception in 1920 until his death in 1983. He represented the Bears, originally known as the Decatur Staleys, at the NFL’s organizational meeting held in Canton, Ohio.
During his incredible career and reign he filled the shoes of owner, manager, player, and promoter, and was an influential leader among the NFL’s ownership. It was, however, as a coach that he excelled and was best known. Although Halas coached his Bears for 40 seasons, he stepped away from the coaching ranks three times – 1930-1932, 1942-1945 (to serve in the military), and 1956-1957. Each time a rejuvenated Halas returned to the sidelines to coach he won an NFL championship. Twice, in 1934 and 1942, Halas’ teams had undefeated regular-season records. His 318 regular-season wins and 324 total victories were long-standing NFL records until broken by Don Shula in 1993. His Chicago Bears teams won six NFL titles, the first coming in 1921 after the Staleys moved to Chicago. George’s Bears won three other divisional titles and finished second 15 times. Only six of Halas’ 40 teams finished below the .500 mark. As a coach, Halas was first in many ways: the first to hold daily practice sessions, to utilize films of opponents’ games for study, to schedule a barnstorming tour, and to have his team’s games broadcast on radio. With his players, George maintained tight control. Disobedience and insubordination were not tolerated. Along with Ralph Jones, his coach from 1930 through 1932, and consultant Clark Shaughnessy, Halas perfected the T-formation attack with the man in motion. It was this destructive force that propelled the Bears to their stunning 73-0 NFL title win over Washington in the 1940 NFL Championship Game and sent every other league team scurrying to copy the Halas system.
The Bears have been in the Halas family for five generations. Virginia Halas McCaskey, daughter of George Halas, is currently the team’s principal owner. She is 98, however, and has allowed her son, George H. McCaskey to serve as chairman with the team. Virginia McCaskey is the oldest owner in the NFL, she’s also the longest-tenured team owner in the league.
There is no official word who will be the buyer of the Chicago Bears, whoever emerges and has the money to purchase the team my hope is they will strive to continue to make it one of most prestigious franchises in the NFL. Go Bears Go!
Dr. Cromartie is the Director of Doctoral Studies at the United States Sports Academy.