Mac On Sports: George Halas Formed Decatur Staleys 100 Years Ago


By J. Thomas McNamara, Sports Editor

     Has anyone stopped to think that without George Halas’ vision back in 1919 there may not be either the Chicago Bears or the National Football League. That year, a century ago, Halas convinced A.E. Staley of the A.E. Staley Manfuacturing Company (now Tate & Lyle) to allow him to form a football team. Staley’s foresight can’t be overlooked because without the Decatur Staley’s, there wouldn’t have been the Chicago Staley’s, or the Chicago Bears. Here we are 100 years later and the Chicago Bears and the National Football League are holding concurrent anniversary celebrations.

     Originally founded in Decatur, Staley agreed to Halas’ request to form a football team that led to the Chicago Bears. Staley gave Halas $5,000 to move the team to Chicago with the stipulation that they would be called the Chicago Staleys. They became the Chicago Bears later. Since then the organization has compiled an overall won-loss record of 755-582-42 and have finished 17-18 in the playoffs. A sign on north U.S. 51 proudly touts Decatur as the original home of the Chicago Bears. Halas’ Decatur Staley’s, led to the Chicago Staley’s, and eventually to the Chicago Bears. And Halas and others met in Canton, Ohio to form what eventually led to creation of the National Football League.

     The Bears first professional football season was in 1920. Since then they have gone on to win eight NFL championships between 1920 and 1963. I was in Wrigley Field when they beat the New York Giants for the championship that December. Halas coached that team. Later, they won Super Bowl XX over the New England Patriots, under Mike Ditka, who was criticized later for not allowing Walter Payton to score a touchdown in that game, allowing William “Refrigerator” Perry to score one. That was the Super Bowl game where quarterback Jim McMahon mooned some during a practice session.

     That team is also the ones responsible for the video “Super Bowl Shuffle” which I still have in my archives. And a player in that video, Dan Hampton, was in Decatur last Thursday for the Community Leaders Breakfast where he spoke about “Building a Champion.” Da Bears are turning Da Big One Hundred this fall, the only team who will be celebrating their centennial concurrently with the NFL. Their logo features a diagonal slash through a 100 with Bears logo at bottom right of the last 0 in 100. Hampton, who was a member of those 1985 Super Bowl Champion Bears and is a NFL Hall of Famer, spoke last Thursday at the Community Leaders Breakfast about “Building a Champion,” a thing or two he knows about since he is one himself.

Leave a Comment