Chicago Bears Team History
Chicago Bears are one of only two charter members of the National
Football League still in existence. Their 1,000-game history
started in Decatur, Ill. in 1920 when the Staley Starch Company
decided to sponsor a football team. Then on September 17, 1920,
the Staleys, with George Halas as their representative, joined
the American Professional Football Association, which was renamed
the National Football League in 1922. The franchise fee was
In 1921, the Staley Starch Company gave Halas the team, $5,000
and permission to move the team to Chicago if he would agree
to keep the Staleys name for a year. The Staleys won the 1921
league championship. A year later, the team was renamed the
From the very start, the Bears were one of pro football's most
successful and innovative franchises. They were the first to
buy a player from another team -- $100 for Ed Healey from Rock
Island in 1922. The Bears signed the fabled collegiate all-America,
Red Grange, in 1925 and then showcased him before the first
huge pro football crowds.
In 1932, they defeated the Portsmouth Spartans 9-0 to win the
championship in the first NFL game to be played indoors. The
next year, they inaugurated the NFL championship series by defeating
the New York Giants, 23-21.
The Bears kicked off the 1940s with four straight NFL championship
appearances. The Bears won three, including the famous 73-0
annihilation of the Washington Redskins in 1940. Despite winning
nearly 60 percent of their games in the 1950s, the Bears did
not win an NFL title and made only one playoff appearance. They
finally broke a 17-year championship drought with a 14-10 win
over the New York Giants in 1963.
Almost all of the successes on and off the field for the Bears
in the 64-year period between 1920 and 1983 can be attributed
to George (Papa Bear) Halas, who served the Bears as an owner,
player, coach, general manager, traveling secretary, and in
virtually every other capacity imaginable. Halas split his 40-year
coaching into four 10-year segments. When he retired after the
1967 season, he ranked as the all-time leader in coaching victories
with 324, a record that stood for 27 years.
Halas died on October 31, 1983, but the Bears tradition is carried
on today by grandson Michael McCaskey, who served as club president
and chief executive officer and is now Chairman of the Board.
In its first 74 years, the team compiled a 586-384-42 overall
record. Chicago qualified for the playoffs 21 times, won 19
division titles, eight NFL championships and Super Bowl XX.
The Bears also have the proud distinction of listing the most
long-time team members as Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees.
Such names as Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski, Sid Luckman, Dick
Butkus, Gale Sayers, Walter Payton, Bulldog Turner, Danny Fortmann
and Halas himself are true legends not only of the Bears, but
of pro football itself.
For their first 51 seasons in Chicago, the Bears played in Wrigley
Field, the famous home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Since
1971, with the exception of one season in 2002 during the stadium's
renovation, they have played in Soldier Field in downtown Chicago.