Illinois Professional Football Teams

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  • Topic: Chicago Bears, Wrigley Field, George Halas
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AJ Hill

Dr. K.J. Carr

History 367

21 April, 2011

Illinois Professional Football Teams

Illinois’ storied professional football past has impacted the state in multiple ways. The team that comes to mind when you first mention this topic is none other than the Chicago Bears. However they have not always been the Chicago Bears and there have been and are multiple professional football teams in Illinois today. Of course the bears have had an extremely storied past and are a part of the National Football League today. The Bears have been an inspiration not only to the state of Illinois socially but also financially. They bring a sense of camaraderie to the people of Illinois. It is easy to see someone out that has a Bears shirt on and say “oh you are a bears fan?” and strike up a conversation with them on what needs to change and what they are doing good this year. This helps bring the people of Illinois together to root for a team. The Chicago Bears also generate a lot of revenue through ticket sales and promotions. It isn’t rare to see a stadium full of orange and blue jerseys on a Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. Over the years the Chicago Bears have come a long way as a franchise to impact far more than just Chicago. Through the history of the Chicago Bears franchise and their accomplishments, they have impacted the state of Illinois financially and socially.

It is essential to give a brief history of the Chicago Bears and their success before looking at how they have impacted the state of Illinois both socially and economically. George Stanley Halas, a name that should ring a bell for anyone who is an avid professional football fan. He is the founder of the Chicago Bears franchise along with being a historical figure in the formation of what is now the National Football League. On the sleeve of the Chicago Bears uniform you can find the patented GHS. Simply put, he is an icon not only for professional football but also for the Chicago Bears and the state of Illinois. As aforementioned the Chicago Bears have not always had the nickname the Bears or even been based out of Chicago. The Bears got their start as the Decatur Staley’s. An unlikely city for the home of a professional football team today but if they would have stayed there the development of Decatur would probably have been significantly different. Regardless if it weren’t for a small town business man Illinois might have never had a professional football team. Staley Starch Works out of Decatur, Illinois was the start of the Chicago Bears. According to the Chicago Bears official website:

…had it not been for that company and its president, A. E. Staley, it is quite probable that professional football would not be as we know it today. For it was Staley who ushered George S. Halas onto the pro football scene and in turn it was Halas who introduced many of the things that are good into the professional football world. (“Tradition”)

A small town business owner hiring a guy to coach a football team turned into what is today the Chicago Bears. However this happened a lot, a guy would try and start up a football team to no reward and the team would no longer exist in a year or so. George Halas had different plans when he took this position as the Decatur Staley’s head coach. Halas won ten games his first year as the head coach of the Decatur Staley’s. The following year Halas initiated the formation of what is now the National Football League when he “[met] with representatives of 12 other clubs at Ralph Hay's Hupmobile showroom in Canton, Ohio, forming the American Professional Football Association” (“Tradition”). It was the American Professional Football Association before it became known as the National Football League.

The life of the Decatur Staley’s was short lived. Following the first year of their existence they moved the franchise to Chicago. A booming city that was growing by the minute and it helped that the city was in the...
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