Mind of Sabol: George Halas

Chicago Bears, Helen Modesett, Mind of Sabol, Uncategorized

By Helen Modesett

Editor’s Note: In this installment of “Mind of Sabol,” we will take a closer look at one of the biggest pioneers of professional football, George Halas (“Papa Bear”), historic owner and coach of the Chicago Bears. Let us know what you think about Steve’s famous card catalog by leaving a comment below or tweeting @NFLFilms with #MindofSabol.

The history of pro football is closely intertwined with the story of George Halas and his football career. Jack-of-all-trades Halas did everything from selling tickets to coaching, writing rules and playing right end for the Chicago Bears, which earned him the nickname “Mr. Everything.”

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame head coach George Halas shown circa 1920.

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame head coach George Halas shown circa 1920.

19376_0001Highlighted Section: “What Ford was to Autos, Rockefeller to Oil, Vanderbilt to railroad, or Morgan to money, Halas was to Football.”

photo Highlighted Section:Pro football was started by six guys sitting around on a Huppmobile running boards in Canton, Ohio, one afternoon in 1920. The only survivor of that group is George Halas. One of the reasons pro football survived in George Halas. George Halas not only played end, he sold tickets, swept floors, shoveled snow, ushered patrons, coached, counted, flacked, worried, wet-nursed, and evangelized. he spent Staley’s get away money on uniforms and the first 20 bucks that came though the till he ran down to the drugstore and bought iodine and tape. When not a single Chicago newspaper showed up to cover the game, George hired a press agent. 

After playing for the team and being an assistant coach, Halas gained control of the team in 1921 when it was still the “Chicago Staleys.”  He renamed the team in 1922.

photoUnderlined Section: He named the team the Bears because they played in Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. “Football players are bigger,” he liked to say. “If baseball players are cubs, football players must be bears.”

photoHighlighted Section: He built the greatest teams the game has ever seen and would have cheerfully poured it on a rival team consisting wholly of his grandparents, maternal aunts, uncles and infants. 

The 1934 Chicago Bears

The 1934 Chicago Bears

photoSteve’s Thoughts: “Team was built on Halas personality- talent just kept it alive

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame coach George Halas shown with Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne (22) in Chicago circa 1926. (AP Photo/Pro Football Hall of Fame)

George Halas with Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne (22)

photoSteve’s Thoughts: “Made in his own image bound to him by battle-tested ties of devotion.

NFL Bears Halas WalquistHe helped revolutionize the way the game was played. He was the first coach to hold daily practices, analyze film of opposites and to put coaches in the press box. He also perfected the T-formation system and he successfully fought for new league rules that increased scoring opportunities, which in turn lead to the growth of the popularity of the game.

19352_0001Highlighted Section: His team was the first to use a major league baseball park as home grounds, the first to make a barnstorming tour.

photoSteve’s Thoughts: “He introduced new rules then screamed at officials when they enforced them.”
photoSteve’s Thoughts: “Believed the quickest way to win is to hit hard at anything in your path.”

George Halas name is often interchanged with his nickname “Papa Bear” because of his long standing association with the team as a coach, player and owner. With out Halas the Bears wouldn’t exist the way they do today.photoSteve’s Thoughts: “They called him Papa Bear but when you talked to those who played against him you learned that Papa Bear was not so cuddly and lovable.

19420_0001 Highlighted Section: Like all self-made men, Hals believed that Papa- knows best. Steve’s Thoughts:”Believed football  was not a game for the weak or faint hearted clever craft and resourceful…. And he built the team in his own image. Made the bears his personal symbol

photo         Steve’s Thoughts:”In this world (George) Halas stood apart. made the team in his personal symbol.”

photo   Steve’s Thoughts: They were planning to erect a statue in his honor.

“How much will it cost?” he asked

“About 100,000” was the answer.

“100,000,” gasped Halas, “For 50,000 I will stand on the pedestal myself.”

Chicago Bears' coach George Halas, left, and Sid Luckman, Bears' player, are seen at the Polo Grounds in New York, Dec. 14, 1946. (AP Photo)

George Halas, left, and Sid Luckman Dece. 14, 1946.


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