Chicago Bears

Anthony Correia / Shutterstock.com

The Chicago Bears are one of the best known American football teams in the world and play in the National Football League’s (NFL) National Football Conference (NFC) North division. Holding multiple NFL records, the Bears have won a total of nine NFL Championships, as well as one Super Bowl.

The franchise was founded in 1919 in Decatur, Illinois by the A.E. Staley food starch company as a company football team and along with the Arizona Cardinals is one of only two teams that remain today from the NFL’s original founding. The Bears play their home games at Soldier Field in the Near South Side of Chicago, although their headquarters are located elsewhere at Halas Hall in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, Illinois.

Although the Chicago Bears have not made the playoffs or won a championship since 2010, they remain one of the biggest, most famous and most recognisable American football franchises in the world.

Fast Facts

  • Full Name: Chicago Bears
  • Conference: National Football Conference
  • Division: North
  • Location: Chicago Illinois
  • Stadium Name: Soldier Field
  • Year Established: 1919
  • Owner: Virginia Halas McCaskey
  • Head Coach: John Fox
  • Manager: Ryan Pace
  • Nickname: The Bears
  • Mascot: Staley da Bear
  • Team Colours: Dark navy, blue, orange and white

History

Soldier Field Aerial

Aerial view of Soldier Field (marchello74 / Shutterstock.com)

The history of the Chicago Bears stretches back to 1919 when they were formed as the Decatur Staleys by the A.E. Staley food starch company in Illinois with George Halas and Edward ‘Dutch’ Sternaman running the team. Competing in the newly formed American Professional Football Association, the company soon passed over most of the responsibility of the team to Halas and Sternaman and the team became a charter member of the National Football League (NFL) in 1920.

The team moved to Chicago in 1921 and was renamed the Chicago Staleys and Halas took over official legal ownership of the club. In the following year, Halas decided to change the name of the team again to the Chicago Bears and the team moved into Wrigley Field, which was also home to the baseball team – the Chicago Cubs.

The Chicago Bears dominated the NFL in the early years and they had a tense rivalry with the Chicago Cardinals (who are now known as the Arizona Cardinals). The Bears also have another rivalry that stretches back to this time and that is with the Green Bay Packers, which resulted from the fact that Halas got the Packers expelled from the League for a while in 1921 during a dispute about a player. Despite some financial difficulties, the twenties and thirties were good decades for the Bears winning several NFL and division championships.

The Bears began the 1940s with four straight NFL championship appearances, winning three, including the famous 73-0 victory over the Washington Redskins. However, there was a gradual decline of form in the 1950s and they did not win an NFL title and made only one appearance in the playoffs. It was in 1963 that they finally broke this drought with a 14-10 win over the New York Giants.

Halas retired as coach in 1967 and the team struggled throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s. Sadly George Halas died in 1983 but his impact on the Bears is clear to be seen and almost all of the success that the Bears had in their history up until his death can be put down to him in some way with the team, in its first 74 years, qualifying for the playoffs 21 times, winning 19 division titles, eight NFL championships, and a Super Bowl in 1985 where they beat the New England Patriots 46-10 at the Louisana Superdome.

Since this win, the Chicago Bears have remained competitive but have yet to repeat their success in the Super Bowl, losing one in 2006 and have been through several coaching changes. 2015 saw John Fox take over and fans are looking forward with hope that the glory days will return.

Super Bowl Appearances

Super Bowl XLI: Indianapolis Colts 29 - Chicago Bears 17

Played at the Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on February 4, 2007, Super Bowl XLI was contested between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts of the American Football Conference. With an attendance of over 74,000, the game saw two teams who had not made Super Bowl appearances for a long time. The first ever Super Bowl to be played in the rain, the Colts overcame a 14-6 first quarter deficit to outscore the Chicago Bears by 23-3 in the last three. The match was estimated to be wasted by a total audience of 93 million viewers and they were treated to a National Anthem sung by Billy Joel and a halftime show featuring Prince.

Super Bowl XX Chicago Bears 46 - New England Patriots 10

Super Bowl XX was played at the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans on 26 January 1986 between the Bears and the New England Patriots. With both teams making their Super Bowl debut, it was an exciting and dynamic game that saw the Bears win by 46-10 and set several Super Bowl records, including number of sacks (seven), fewest rushing yards allowed (seven), and margin of victory (36). The match was watched by over 73,000 spectators and 92 million viewers and they were treated to a National Anthem by trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis, and a half time show by Up With People.

Stadium

Soldier Field

Soldier Field (Max Herman / Shutterstock.com)

The Chicago Bears play all of their home games at Soldier Field, situated on the Near South Side of Chicago, Illinois and have done so since 1971. The stadium is one of the oldest in the USA and was first opened in 1924. It has served as the home stadium for a number of sports teams during its long history, including the Chicago Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals), Notre Dame football, and the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer. It has also played host to games in the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, as well as a large amount of converts, including Johnny Cash, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Madonna, Paul McCartney, U2, Pearl Jam, Coldplay, Guns and Roses, and One Direction.

The stadium has undergone an enormous amount of renovation over the years to keep its facilities modern – the latest major ones being in 2002, which saw its capacity reduced from 63,944 to 61,500 but also saw many improvements in the standard of its facilities. Sadly, one of the results of these renovations was its delisting as a National Historic Landmark. Although the stadium flirted with AstroTurf between 1971 and 1987, the field is now pure Kentucky Bluegrass, as it was when it was originally built.

Famous Players

Walter Payton

From Jackson State, many people thought that Walter Payton didn’t have what it took to make it in the NFL. How wrong they were. Fighting for every last yard, ‘Sweetness’ racked up a total of 16,726 rushing yards, 125 touchdowns, and won the Lombardi Trophy. One of the greatest players ever to play for the Chicago Bears, he is also one of the greatest ever running backs to play the game.

Dick Butkus

Dick Butkus is widely thought of as the best linebacker of his generation and one of the greatest to ever play the game. Drafted in 1965, his attitude to the game was tenacious and he struck fear into the heart of the opposition, showing no mercy. Named the 70th greatest athlete of the 20th century, he was also named the ninth best player in NFL history by The Sporting News.

Michael Dyczko

The son of Ukrainian immigrants, ‘Iron Mike’, as he was known, was dominant between 1961 and 1965. Playing at tight end, he was too fast for linebackers and too physical for defensive backs, which was why, in his six seasons as a Bear, he racked up an impressive 316 receptions from 4503 yards and 34 touchdowns.

William Perry ‘The Refrigerator’ (1985-1993)

William Perry played defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears between 1985 and 1993. He may not go down as one of the greatest ever to play for the Bears (though he was a good player), but he will be remembered for many years to come, mainly thanks to his size. At over 330 lbs, he was known as ‘The Refrigerator’ and was an imposing presence in the team.

Did You Know?

  • During the Chicago Bear’s first six NFL seasons, they had an amazing 34 shutout wins.
  • Famous Chicago Bears fans include: Ashton Kutcher, Bill Murray, James Earl Jones, Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Vince Vaughan.
  • Along with the Arizona Cardinals (formerly known as the Chicago Cardinals), the Chicago Bears are the oldest NFL franchise still in existence.
  • Despite their long history, the Chicago Bears have only made two Super Bowl appearances one of which they actually won.