The year was 1920. After work from his job at the railroad, a man found himself walking home nursing a sore hip. The pain came and went, each time reminding him of his failed baseball career, conjuring up the odd curveball that was forever unhittable in his nightmares. Upon arriving home, he pours himself a cold drink and stares thoughtfully out the window at some of the local city kids playing a game of stickball. His phone rings. The voice on the other end? Augustus Eugene Staley, better known as the owner/operator of the Staley Starch Works. Staley says he's impressed by this man's sports background and wants him to relocate 180 miles south to Decatur to manage his company-owned football and baseball squads. The man on the other end is caught off guard. He silently contemplates a brief moment, letting the emotion of the moment wash it's way through his system. His normally craggy face allows the cracking of a subtle grin, and from that mouth he says to Staley, "...you bet your ass."
Then George Halas hung up.
After a year of whipping those poor midwesterners into shape, George had grown tired of the rural scenery and rustic charm of central Illinois. He kicked in the door to Staley's office, shoved a globe in his face, his finger tapping furious on one spot - the top right corner of Illinois. Staley signed off on the move, and once in the Windy City, George got in touch with Bill Veeck, then-owner of the Chicago Cubs. Halas gave him a firm pimpslap, demanding that the Cubs share Wrigley Field with his gridiron superhumans; thus began what turned out to be a 70-year run where the Bears called Wrigley home. George felt a bit miffed about slapping Veeck in the mouth like some floundering trollop, so in his honor he renamed the Staleys the Chicago Bears.
After several years of inconsistency and struggling to get the league taken seriously, Halas caught a break when he signed a guy named Red Grange. To put this into perspective, you have to realize that the National Football League back then was a total joke compared to the college game. The significance of a college legend like Grange signing with an NFL team was earth-shattering to sports fans and pundits alike; it'd be comparable to say, Peyton Manning quitting the Colts back in 2001 to join the Los Angeles Xtreme of the XFL. Needless to say, the NFL became a credible organization pretty damned quickly.
Halas actually suited up for the Bears for nigh a decade as a wide receiver/defensive end, in addition to being the head coach/team owner. He actually held a record for longest fumble returned for a touchdown (98 yards) which stood until 1972. After leading the Bears to 4 world championships in just under 10 years, Japan decided to bomb Pearl Harbor. Halas, being a ball-crushing patriot hardass, decided to put the Bears on hold in order to help in blasting the Axis powers all to hell. After America double-tagged Japan with some nukes, Halas resumed his mantle at Bears HQ. The 50's Bears didn't win jack squat, but it was perhaps the most entertaining time to be a Bears fan because of Halas being the weird cantankerous bastard that he was.
BearsHistory.com states that, "[Halas] had the filthiest mouth of any man they'd ever heard. He routinely cussed referees and made them pick their game salary off the ground a dollar at a time." This was coming from a guy who didn't drink or smoke and was devoutly religious. Legends of Papa Bear sprang up from time to time, putting itching powder in opponent's equipment, rumors of bugging the locker rooms, etc. He was all about one thing - victory, and nothing else.
George's Bears went on to win a 1963 title, but entered a dark period afterwards during which time he slowly eeked out his powers to his family and other interests, including Jim Finks as Chairman of Team Operations. Then sadly in the late 70's his only son had died of a heart attack, and Halas threw himself back into his beloved Bears. An 86-year old Papa Bear usurped Fink's power and retook command in retooling of the club until making his final major act - hiring "Iron" Mike Ditka as head coach. Unfortunately for Halas, he passed away in 1983, just a few years before the legendary 85 team he set the table for destroyed everything in their path.
So now when you look at the sleeves of your Chicago Bears jerseys and see that "GSH," you'll know it's there for a very good reason - George S. Halas broke the mold of the Chicago Bears and professional sports.
Happy birthday, George."Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it."