“Bring Papa Home”

Ashor Jajou, Sports Editor

Super Bowl talk is already in the air for Chicago Bears fans. The enthusiasm is not without warranty, for the Bears have made some key additions to their team and also have star quarterback Jay Cutler and premiere workhorse running back Matt Forte both back and healthy. The Bears also traded for the extremely talented wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who had a great history with Cutler when they were both with the Denver Broncos. But before we sprint to the Super Bowl let us hurdle the first obstacle. The Bears can get into the playoffs by ensuring a wild card playoff spot, meaning they do not need to win their division (NFC North). But winning the NFC Championship (in this writer’s opinion) is a must, because it not only is necessary to move onto the Super Bowl game but it also has sentimental value for the Bears team and fans. The reason is not only so one can boast “hey, we won our conference,” but it is so we can scream with a cold one in one hand and perhaps some dripping cheese off of a nacho in the other hand “We won the Halas trophy.” That is the name of the NFC conference championship trophy, named after Chicago Bears icon George Halas. Who is George Halas? I have been a Bears fan since 1988, when I was 12 years old, and I have heard that name “Halas” on many occasions, but I really didn’t know who exactly he was and the contributions Halas made to the National Football League (NFL).
To some he is known as “Mr. Everything,” but most of us know him as “Papa Bear.” As a member of society he was true American hero who served in both World War I and II. During World War II Halas spent three years in the South Pacific with the Navy organizing entertainment for war-weary troops.
He was a native of Chicago born on February 2, 1885. His Alma Mater was the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Halas was also a Chicago Cubs fan and changed the name to the Chicago Bears in 1922; they were previously called the Chicago Staleys. In 1925 the American Professional Football Association changed its name to the National Football League and that name has engraved itself in stone ever since. During this time professional football was not as widely popular as college football due to the young age of professional football and the fact that colleges had not only a larger fan base, but also alumni support. Nonetheless Halas still became one of the earliest most successful owners in the league. Throughout the years the NFL had taken in other leagues. One of the most important mergers was with the American Football League which began with the AFL- NFL Super Bowl in 1967.
George Halas is one of the founding fathers to the NFL and his accomplishments are incredible. He was the founder, owner, and coach of the Chicago Bears from 1920 up until his passing on October 31, 1983. Halas was the last person to own and coach a team in the NFL and he led his team to championships (both as an owner and coach) in 1921, 1932-33, 1940- 41, 1943, 1946 and 1963.
Halas is second on the all time coaching wins list with 324 wins and he coached the Bears for 40 years, which is an amazing feat in itself. In the 1940 NFL championship game he coached the Bears in a 73-0 win over the Washington Redskins. He was voted Coach of the Year twice and as a head coach he won 6 championships. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963. Halas was also an innovator for the game. He was the only person associated with the NFL for the whole first 50 years. He perfected the T-Formation (many say he created it) and added the man-in-motion. He was the first coach to hold daily practices and also to use to film to study the opponent’s games. He was the first to have his team broadcast on the radio and also birthed NFL games being broadcasted on television.
Halas is the heart, soul, and creator of the Bears; that is not up for debate. Every time we watch a game we see his name on the Bears players jerseys; the letter “GSH” are stitched on the upper left sleeve of each jersey (his full name George Stanley Halas), which is something the Bears added to their jerseys in 1984 in honor of him after his passing. This in turn brings to light the importance of winning the NFC Championship, thus insuring that the Bears win the Halas trophy. Last season the New York Giants won the NFC Championship and then went on to win the Super Bowl XLVI. This is going to be a great year for the Bears, barring any major injuries. Before we start the premature talks about going to the Super Bowl, let’s first get into the playoffs, win the NFC championship, and bring “Papa” home so we can go to the big show!