Dutch Sternaman will forever
be known better for coming close to snatching ownership of the Chicago Bears
from George "Papa Bear" Halas, but he should not be forgotten as one of the
pioneers of the Bears and the NFL. Sternaman played halfback at the University
of Illinois with Halas, and played on the first Decatur Staley team. When A.E.
Staley encouraged Halas to take the team north to Chicago where it might
survive, Sternaman became an eager part owner of the club. He also continued to
play halfback for the team until 1930. As is famously documented, during the
Great Depression Sternaman lost money in bad investments, and arranged for
Halas to buy out his share of the team. The agreement had a deadline for Halas
to make final payment or lose everything he had invested to Sternaman.
According to Halas, he made the final payment with just minutes to spare. How
the Bears might have changed over the years had Halas not continued to own the
team we will never know, but Sternaman's contributions to the team in its vital
first decade should not be forgotten.