The letters “GSH” can be seen on the left sleeve of the players’ jerseys if you’ve ever watched the Chicago Bears of the National Football League play. Honoring George Stanley Halas, who created and ran the Bears from 1920 until his passing in 1983, these initials are stitched on the players’ shirts. Halas had an interesting life and a memorable time as the team’s owner.
Halas was born to Greek and Slavic immigrants on February 2, 1895, in Chicago. Before joining the US Navy to serve in World War I, he participated in three sports while studying civil engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
After leaving the Navy, Halas briefly played baseball for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball, but he had a hip injury and lost the ability to smash curveballs, which quickly ended his baseball career.
An early NFL owner
In 1920, Halas was given the opportunity to work for and coach the Staley Starch Works’ football and baseball teams in Decatur, Illinois, a community in central Illinois. Many businesses had their own sports teams during this time, with employees filling a variety of jobs.
Halas attended a meeting of the American Professional Football Association, a new football league, in Chicago shortly after taking the position of coach. Halas joined the group that was formerly known as the Decatur Staleys. Halas was one of the league’s initial owners when the American Professional Football Association changed its name to the National Football League in 1924.
Halas played a variety of positions on the squad up until 1929 in addition to coaching and owning the Decatur Staleys, which eventually changed their name to the Chicago Bears. He oversaw the team’s financial decisions and served as the modern equivalent of a general manager, scouting and signing players to play for the squad. Harold “Red” Grange, one of the NFL’s first superstars, was one of the numerous stars he signed to the Bears. He had an eye for guys with potential.
Later, Halas fought in World War II. After the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, he reenlisted in the Navy even though he was well into his 40s and planned recreational activities for the sailors stationed in the South Pacific. In addition, he was a guy of paradoxes.
Halas was a devout guy who was committed to his faith and family; he abstained from smoking and drinking, but those who knew him recognised him as one of the most obscenely profane individuals they had ever encountered.
Achievement in Chicago
The owner of Staley Starch Works advised Halas to move the team to Chicago at the conclusion of the 1920 season after realising that Decatur wasn’t a lucrative market for even a good pro football team. On the condition that Halas would refer to the team as the Chicago Staleys for one season, he paid Halas $5,000 to relocate the team.
All six of Halas’ Bears’ NFL championships were before the Super Bowl era. Additionally, they captured three divisional championships and finished second in the division 15 times. In every season but six, his clubs had a winning record at the end.
An original coach
Halas led the Bears for 40 seasons in a row without a break and pioneered a number of football firsts. He was the first coach to implement daily practises for his team, and he was also the first to introduce staff and players to game film analysis.
The Bears were the first team to go on a tour of public appearances under Halas so that fans could see the players and get pumped up for the season. When the T-formation was introduced for the first time by his coaching staff, the team dominated until other coaches adopted the tactic. Additionally, the Bears were the first club to have radio broadcasts of their games.
A Legacy in Football
Up until the time of his death in 1983 due to pancreatic cancer, Halas was actively involved in every aspect of the Chicago Bears’ operations. The owner of the team for 64 seasons, the man they lovingly referred to as “Papa Bear” is the only person to have had a connection to the NFL for each of the first 50 years of the league. He definitely lived up to the moniker “Mr. Everything” during his time playing for the Bears.
Keeping Your Word
The Bears wanted to honour their founding owner and the person who helped to create the franchise after Halas passed away. They pledged to permanently display Halas’ initials on the players’ shirts. Virginia McCaskey, his daughter, now holds a majority ownership stake in the Bears.
Halas was not present for the Bears’ lone Super Bowl victory to date, but since his passing, the team has worked to keep his name prominent in Bears supporters’ minds.