Chicago Bears History Tidbits
This page is more or less a "FAQ" on the most frequently asked questions I receive on the Bears. Or it's a compilation of all the little bits that don't require a full story. Hope it's helpful.
The Chicago Bears were a founding member of the American Professional Football Association in 1920, which would later become the National Football League. For a more complete story about how this transpired, visit Chicago Bears Lore.
The Bears adopted the colors Navy Blue and Burnt Orange in tribute to their founder George Halas' alma mater, the University of Illinois. For more on the history of the Bears' uniforms, see Bears Uniform History.
The Chicago Bears Fight song, "Bear Down, Chicago Bears" was written by Al Hoffman in 1941. The words are:
Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Let every play clear the way to victory
Bear Down, Chicago Bears
Put up a fight with a might so fearlessly
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T-formation
Bear Down, Chicago Bears,
and let them know why you're wearing the crown
You're the pride and joy of Illinois
Chicago Bears, Bear Down
The song is still played after every Bears score at their home games.
Speaking of home games, here's a little information on the Bears home game experience for those who have never had the chance to attend. Tailgating at Soldier Field is tough, although we seem to manage. The lots around Soldier Field are for holders of parking passes only. Fans such as my group have to work dilligently, and arrive early, to find the proper spot to enjoy pregame festivities. Upon my first visit to Minnesota, I enjoyed the great pregame "fairway" they have set up around the stadium, and wished the Bears would do something similar. The team has stated they will do so with the new stadium, and tailgating will be much different, for better or for worse. We shall see.  Update 2005-there is no official pregame party around the stadium, and the city has cracked down on drinking around the new stadium before games.
Introductions of the teams begins approximately 14 minutes before gametime. The opposing team is announced without music before the Bears enter through a giant Bear head in the Northwest corner of the stadium.
An enduring sound you'll hear at Bears games is Stadium Announcer Jim Riebandt, who has been calling the down, distance, and NFL scores since 1982. Anyone that has attended a Bears game cannot forget his announcement when there is a "Timeout............ON the field." Jim started doing this to let the band know they should start playing, and now it is a classic part of the gameday experience. I've heard others tell me that this is the same announcer from Fenway Park in Boston, but as far as I know, that's not true.
One last gripe about the gameday experience. Bear fans original and most enduring chant is "Let's Go Bears!" when the team is driving or the defense needs encouragement. Through the 1980's, the scoreboard used to urge the crowd on by displaying the words. At some point, this practice stopped and although us old-time fans still carry on, electricity for the team could be greatly improved if the organization implemented another way to urge the crowd on. It is done legally in Minnesota with the Viking horn and in Green Bay with the lame "Go Pack Go" guitar, so if the team would realize this they should be able to do it.   Update 2005-the crowd is now urged on with "Let's Go Bears" on the scoreboard.  Good decision.
Word to the wise-arrive early and stay late at Bears games, because the location of the stadium makes for a traffic mess.
For a list of Chicago Bears Hall of Famers and to see our very own Chicago Bears Ring of Honor, please visit the Chicago Bears Ring of Honor section.
The Chicago Bears won NFL championships in the following years:
They played in league championship games but lost the following years:
And in NFC Championship Games but lost in:
Some notable players that were drafted by the Bears but never starred with them are:
Bobby Layne, QB Detroit 1950's (1948 draftee)
Jim Fassell, former Head Coach, NY Giants (1972 draftee)
Keenan McCardell, WR, Tampa, Practice Squad 1993 (Practice Squad '93)
Mitch Berger, P, St. Louis, Practice Squad 1995 (Free Agent '95)
Doug Flutie, QB, New England/Canada/Buffalo, San Diego, 1986-1987
The Bears played in Wrigley Field from 1921 to 1970, and in "old" Soldier Field from 1971-2001. They played the 2002 season and 2003 preseason in Champaign, IL, and in 2003 opened the completely rebuilt Soldier Field on September 29. The team also hosted several contests at Northwestern University's Dyche Stadium and Notre Dame University in South Bend, IN.
Soldier Field was originally a "horseshoe" when the team played there from 1971-1979. In 1980, an agreement was reached with the Chicago Park District to build additional seats in the North end zone to create a "bowl". This work, replacing bench seating with individual plastic seats, and the installation of Skyboxes was completed in 1982.
A grass playing surface was installed at Soldier Field in 1988. Numerous problems were experienced with the surface after it was installed, and in 1994 after various special events caused damage. The new Soldier Field will also feature grass, and not the new "Field Turf" which is the latest trend in the NFL.
The Chicago Bears have the most players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and are second to the New York Yankees in all of professional sports in number of jersey numbers retired. For a list of these players, please see the Bears Lore index page.
The endzones and midfield area were not painted at Soldier Field until the 1982 season. During that year, the field sported "Chicago" in the end zone for the first time, and a large "C" Bears logo was painted at midfield for the '83 campaign. These markings remained unchanged until midway through the 1996 season. At that point, the midfield "C" changed to a blue Bears head, and the endzones were painted with "Bears" in cursive. These markings remained until the 1999 opener, at which point they were changed back to the classic "Chicago" and the "C". I was very excited to see the original art return.  The new Soldier Field again uses newer art in the endzone.
Special markings were painted on the field to commemorate Walter Payton's passing in 1999, and in 2001 for the "Salute to Soldier Field."   The new Soldier Field logo was painted on the field for the 2003 opener.
Most long-time attendees of Bears games probably remember The Honey Bears, Rocky, and the Bear Mascot. I don't remember much about the Bears mascot at Solider Field from 1979 on, but it was George Motyka that wore the suit until the Bears refused to take him with on the trip to San Francisco for the NFC Championship game in 1984.   This Bear was an enduring sight at Wrigley Field for years. More known to me as the Bears' original mascot was "Rocky", whose actual name I do not know off the top of my head. "Rocky" was a guy in his mid-50's that had season tickets on the east sideline at Soldier Field, and was a steadfast icon throughout the stadium through the 1980's. "Rocky" wore a "1" Bears jersey, carried a megaphone, and started chants all over Soldier Field. As a kid, I also remember meeting him at several post-game tailgate parties. He can even be seen starting a chant at the 1985 NFC Championship game in the teams' highlight film from that year. I have a publicity picture of Rocky somewhere in my archives that I will post here in the future.
And last but not least, who could forget the Honey Bears. The Chicago Bears' official cheerleaders were hired by the club by Jim Finks in 1977, and made their last sideline appearance at Solider Field in the 1985 NFC Championship. The cheerleaders performed throughout the game and during halftime in every type of weather, and also cheered the players on as they entered the field. The last mention I have seen in the media about the Honey Bears appeared in 1998 in a column by the Chicago Tribune's Fred Mitchell.
Mitchell's column indicated that the group's choreographer and founder, Cathy Core, was making a push for a comeback. (Core also is choreographer of the Luvabulls, the Chicago Bulls' cheerleaders.) Core successfully instituted a junior cheerleader program at Soldier Field for the 1999-2001 seasons, but so far, nothing has been said about a return of the Honey Bears. Former Bears marketing director Ken Valdiserri said in this article that "bringing back the Honey Bears in the form that they were is maybe something we would consider if and when a new stadium comes to fruition." Now we have a new stadium on the way, but no mention of this classic component of the Bears' gameday experience.
Please visit the Honey Bears and Mascots page for more information. © 2000-2016 Roy Taylor