If you grew up in the same time frame that I grew up (the 80’s and 90’s), there are a few things that you automatically think of when you think of the Chicago Bears. You know the answer to the question: “Who would win in a fight between Godzilla and Ditka?” (the answer is Ditka- you would know that if you knew who Bill Swerski’s Super Fans are).
You would know what the Super Bowl Shuffle was. You know that the ’85 Bears probably had the best defense of all time. You know who Walter Payton was and that he probably was the best running back of all time. And, finally, you know that Mike Ditka had the greatest ‘80’s mustache ever (only one closest would be Tom Selleck).
Obviously, there is more to the Chicago Bears than the 1980s. But, one could argue that the 1980’s mark the high mark of the Chicago Bears, especially since the merger of the AFL and the NFL in the 1970 season. The history of the Bears is a very long one.
This article is also a podcast over at the Football Is Family if you are interested in listening, you can do so below. You can also read the full article if this is your preference.
FOOTBALL IS FAMILY
Every Thursday, host Jeremy McFarlin shares the history of one NFL team. He also brings on a guest (or more) each week to share why their NFL team feels like a part of their family.
Present at the Founding
The history of the Bears is a very long one. Originally founded in 1919-20 as the Decatur Staleys (named after the A.E. Staley Food Starch Company), the Bears/Staleys are the second oldest NFL team currently playing (the Cardinals are the oldest). Because of the age of the team, and the success that this team has had over the years, they boast 35 NFL Hall of Famers, 9 total championships (1 Super Bowl, and 8 championships before the Super Bowl era), and 2 NFC championships. In 1993, the Bears played their 1000th game, which is an amazing testament to the success of this team and the love of their fans.
In 1920, the Staleys made one of their greatest moves in hiring a man named George Halas to run the team. In 1921, Halas moved the team to the city of Chicago (and won a championship), and in 1922 changed the name of the Staleys to the Bears (for nearly 50 years, the Bears played their games in Wrigley Field- the home field of the Cubs- the Bears name reflects the baseball team).
In 1925, Halas made a big splash in the NFL pool when he signed the great Red Grange for $100,000. This move made the NFL a legit business. Up until this point, the NFL was viewed almost as a joke- a second rate sports league. The signing of Grange made playing for the NFL desirable for many college players and made fans want to come and see the game live.
The most remembered team in the history of the Chicago Bears has to be the 1985 Bears. Their defense set the bar high for other defenses to come. Buddy Ryan brought his 46 defense (named after the jersey number of Bob Plank) to Chicago, which brought eight men into the tackle box, and 6 on the line of scrimmage.
This defense helped the Bears win the Super Bowl that year, and ended up with both Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan being carried off the field at the end of the game. Another great moment in Chicago Bears history happened in the 1988 playoffs when they played the Philadelphia Eagles in what became known as the Fog Bowl. Halfway through the game, a massive fog came into the stadium, making it almost impossible to see what was happening on the field.
I remember watching this game; it was very eerie. It was certainly a moment to remember and talk about, even over 30 years later. The Bears also played in the 1st American Bowl in London in 1986.
Obviously, being one of the older teams in the NFL, the Bears have an impressive win/loss record. Their record in the regular season (before 2020) was 10-1-2 as the Decatur Staleys, 9-1-1 as the Chicago Staleys, and 742-581-39 as the Chicago Bears, along with a 17-19 record in the postseason.
On a personal note, I own one Chicago Bears jersey. It is the number 6 Jay Cutler jersey. Next to John Elway, Jay Cutler is my favorite player. Say what you want about Jay, I like him and think he is probably the best quarterback the Bears have had in years.
I hope you enjoy this interview with Ray, a Bears fan and personal friend. If you would like to come on the podcast, please reach out to me @jeremy_mcfarlin, or join us on the new Facebook page, Football is Family. Also, come on to the Sports History Network webpage to see the amazing shows that this network has to offer. Thank you, and remember that football is family.