Tuesday, November 25, 2008

George Halas

While the National Football League may be a ubiquitous, multi-media juggernaut today, the league was once a second-rate group of semi-professional clubs whose quality paled in comparison to college teams. George Halas (1895-1983) played a significant role in the development of professional football, and he formed one of football's most enduring franchises: the Chicago Bears.

After playing in college and minor league sports, Halas had an opportunity in 1920 to manage a football team for his employer in the town of Decatur, Illinois. The A.E. Staley Company, a Starch producer for which he was a sales rep., wanted him to front both baseball and football teams. After early football success with the Staleys, Halas bought that club and moved it to Chicago. The rechristened Bears (named in honor of the baseball Cubs, with whom they shared Wrigley Field) were a founding member of the American Professional Football Association, precursor to the NFL.

Halas was a player, coach, and manager for the Bears. Two of his early major accomplishments were recruiting star talent to the league to bolster its respectability and introducing the T-formation to professional football. After his Bears crushed the Redskins 73-0 in the 1940 title game, the new offensive formation caught on like wildfire and spelled the end for the old single-wing offense.

As a life-long Bears fan, I benefit every autumn from the team and traditions Halas created. Chicago has a great atmosphere for football which allows hundreds of thousands of locals to engage in a passionate, yet nonviolent form of collective association on Sundays. Notwithstanding some of the weaknesses of the modern NFL, professional football and each of its teams enrich the lives of millions of fans every year. For his instrumental role in this outcome, George Halas is today's Hero of Capitalism.

Wikipedia Bio
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Bears Website Bio

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