Chicago Bears Lore
In this section of www.bearshistory.com, we have written stories on some issues and players that have played an interesting part of the history of this franchise. Click on the links to go to the story.
Chicago Bears Lore: the Issues
It was a surprise to some when Jerry Angelo was fired as General Manager by the Chicago Bears following the 2011 season.  We take a look back at the Jerry Angelo Era in a four-part series.  Although under Kyle Orton in 2008 it looked like the Bears had started to figure out that it takes offense to win games, the Chicago Bears Offense has been historically inept. Dave Wannstedt was chosen by Michael McCaskey to succeed legendary coach Mike Ditka in 1993. Wannstedt's tenure was so inept we had to cover it. Other articles cover the history of these other position groups: Chicago Bears Tight Ends, Chicago Bears Receivers, and of course you can read about all of those Bears quarterbacks that have started since 1979 in the Chicago Bears Quarterbacks article. In fact we're sure this is where those damn Packer fans get the information for the signs they hold up at Lambeau every year. Morons. We also have what we feel to be a pretty good article about Soldier Field History, covering the building from its construction in 1924, to all the plans to replace it, to the full remodel in 2002-2003. To round out the stories on the issues, we have an article about the Chicago Bears Pass Rush that is so critical to Lovie Smith's cover 2 defense (and is exactly what is wrong with the pass defense in 2008), and an article about the Mike Ditka-Buddy Ryan feud that has been ongoing since 1982.
Chicago Bears Lore: The Players
Any discussion of great Chicago Bears players has to start with the first: founder, player, owner, the legendary George S. Halas, who founded the Bears in 1920, coached them until 1967 and remained involved in football operations until his death in 1983. We had the opportunity to meet and interview Al Baisi, an offensive lineman that played for Halas for three seasons, and created an article for him. Baisi shared fond recollections of his Bears career with us prior to his death in 2005. Of course this site would not be complete without covering Mike Ditka, the man Halas entrusted to bring glory back to the Bears. And Ditka did just that. Two more Bears players that are always mentioned in any discussion of the greatest at their positions are Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. Butkus and Sayers were both drafted by the Bears in the first round in 1965, and their jerseys were retired together in a driving rainstorm on Halloween night, 1994. Also playing for the Bears in the 1960's was Brian Piccolo, whose courageous battle with cancer was portrayed in the movie Brian's Song. A few years after Piccolo's death, the Bears drafted another running back that would become a Bears legend: Walter Payton. Payton would give thrills and laughter to Bears fans for 13 seasons, before he too died tragically in 1999. Payton's teammate Otis Wilson may have matched Sweetness in the amount of laughter he was able to generate, and made sure opposing quarterbacks didn't forget his hits. We have also written about four of our favorite players from Mike Ditka's post-super bowl teams: Quarterback Jim Harbaugh, Running Backs Neal Anderson and Brad Muster, and hard-nosed Receiver Tom Waddle. After the careers of those four were over, the Bears drafted two running backs that turned out to be absolute turds in Rashaan Salaam and Curtis Enis. Hey, even writing about turds can be fun. Finally, we threw in two articles about a couple of tough Bears players that probably won't be remembered as legends in Quarterback Jim Miller and Offensive Tackle James "Big Cat" Williams.
Chicago Bears Lore: On the Field
We compared and contrasted the 1991 Chicago Bears and 2002 Chicago Bears home openers against the Minnesota Vikings in our article about the Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings. Guess what? The Bears won both games. Also covered is a new article on the 55 most memorable Chicago Bears games since 1979.
A Short History of the Chicago Bears
It all started on September 20, 1920, in the showroom of Ralph Hay's Hupmobile auto agency in Canton, OH. On that day, representatives of fourteen professional football teams sat on the running boards of cars to form what is now the National Football League. George Halas, an outstanding End that played his college ball at the University of Illinois, represented his team, the Decatur Staleys. The team had been formed the preceeding year by the A.E. Staley company of Decatur, IL, as a way to keep his employees happy.
Halas' team played the 1920 season as the Decatur Staleys. In 1921, Staley decided he could no longer afford to subsidize the team, so he suggested that Halas move the team to Chicago, where it might survive, and gave him $5,000 to keep the Staley name for one year. Thus, for 1921, the team became the Chicago Staleys and played their games at Cubs Park. The following year, Halas surmised that since the team was playing in the stadium of the Chicago Cubs, his team ought to be named the Chicago Bears. The Navy and Orange color scheme still worn by the Bears today was derived from Halas' alma mater, Illinois.
Halas spent an enormous amount of time personally scouting players, as well as playing for his team. Often times, he declared that he "just had to have" certain players he saw play in college. First, Halas signed Harold "Red" Grange, an outstanding running back from the U of I, to an unheard of salary of $100,000. In 1925-26, Grange and the Bears went on a "Barnstorming" tour, during which they played 19 games with only a week of rest. Historians have concluded that this tour is what "made" pro football. Later, Halas would acquire other players such as Bronko Nagurski and Sid Luckman, who took Chicago to titles in '32, '33, '40, '41 & '46. During the 1940's, the Bears Fight Song was written, and the team revolutionized football with the T-Formation.
The 1950's Bears featured many brawling players such as Ed "The Claw" Sprinkle, Bill George, George Connor, and Harlon Hill, but won no championships. Finally in 1963, the Bears won their first NFL Championship since 1946 over the New York Giants at Wrigley Field. That '63 team defeated the Green Bay Packers twice, featuring a brusing defense along with a steady offense. Unfortunately after '63, it was a long downhill slide, as the Bears didn't make the playoffs again until 1977.
One could only expect that the decade of the 1970's would be dismal after witnessing its first event. After finishing 1969 with a 1-13 record, the Bears flipped a coin with the Pittsburgh Steelers to determine who would get the first pick in the 1970 draft. Pittsburgh won, and drafted Hall-of-Fame Quarterback Terry Bradshaw. The Bears sent their pick to Green Bay for a bunch of washed-up veterans, and the decade was history. Worse, Chicago running back Brian Piccolo succumbed to cancer at the age of 26 in June of that year, which would lead to the movie Brian's Song, forever cementing Piccolo and the Bears in millions of minds across the globe.
The Bears made the playoffs and exited after one game in 1977 and 1979, but didn't make a serious run until 1984 under former player/Head Coach Mike Ditka. In 1985, the Bears took the world by storm as they won their first championship since '63, cutting a music video along the way. Despite having the pure talent to win many more championships, the team never went back to the Super Bowl, and by 1992, the core of Super Bowl Bears had run their NFL course. Mike Ditka was fired, and Dave Wannstedt hired by Team President Michael McCaskey. Wannstedt took the team back to the playoffs in 1994, but went 24-40 in his next four years, and was dismissed in 1998.
Dick Jauron became the 12th Head Coach in Bears history on January 24, 1999. After two forgettable seasons, Jauron shepharded the Bears to a magical 13-3 record and home playoff game in 2001. After two more forgettable seasons, Jauron was fired, and Lovie Smith hired in 2004 as the 13th Head Coach in Chicago Bears History.
In 2005, Lovie Smith made good on two of the three promises he made when hired by Chicago. His team swept the Green Bay Packers, and clinched their first NFC North division title. His third goal, a Super Bowl championship, remained to be attained.
Smith followed up the impressive sophomore campaign in 2006 by returning the Bears to the Super Bowl for the first time in 21 years, but the Bears fell short in their quest for the title, losing to the Indianapolis Colts in Miami.
High expectations in 2007 simply brought heartache, as the Bears became the latest in a long string of Super Bowl losers to not return to the playoffs.
Smith's Bears also missed the playoffs in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, the Bears surprised the league by making it to the NFC Championship Game behind a resurgent defense. But they tragically lost at home to the Green Bay Packers, the team Smith committed to beat as a first priority. After Smith's teams wilted at the end of the following two seasons, and he lost nine of his last 11 games to the Packers, he was fired at the conclusion of the 2012 season.






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