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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 255

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This is the grave of George Halas.

Born in 1895 to Bohemian immigrants in Chicago, Halas was a sports phenom, playing baseball, football, and basketball at the University of Illinois and was MVP of the 1919 Rose Bowl. He played a bit of professional baseball, including 12 games for the 1919 Yankees, but got hurt and switched to professional football. He took a job for the A.E. Staley Company in Decatur, Illinois (which in the 1990s was the site of an epic lookout and labor struggle), where he played for and managed the company football team. He picked Illinois navy and orange colors for the uniforms and represented the team at the NFL’s founding meeting in Canton, Ohio in 1922. He then moved the team to Chicago and they became the Bears. Halas played for a long time on both offense and defense, convinced Red Grange to play for him, and was a member of the NFL All-Pro Team of the 20s. He retired from both playing and coaching in 1930, but was the team’s sole owner by this time. He returned to coaching in 1933, developed the T-formation, and drafted Sid Luckman as his quarterback. He left to join the Navy during World War II, where he became a lieutenant commander of Nimitz’s Seventh Fleet, which was a fancy rank for a guy who was in charge of the recreation for the guys. He still received a Bronze Star for that. He returned to the Bears in 1946 as coach and stayed there until 1967 except for a one-year break in the 50s. He drafted George Blanda, which certainly did not hurt his success. He won 5 undisputed NFL titles and another very early one on a tiebreaker. His overall record was 348-148-31. Halas remained the team’s owner until his death in 1983, when his daughter Virginia Halas McCaskey took over.

And other than the 86 title and that ridiculous year when somehow they managed to get to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as QB, the Bears have sucked incredibly, although saved from being a punchline thanks to their division mates the Lions. Ah, the Lions.

In conclusion, I am very glad I am not a Bears fan.

George Halas is buried in Saint Adalbert Catholic Cemetery, Niles, Illinois.

If you would like this series to cover other NFL coaches, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Tom Landry is buried in Dallas and Chuck Noll is in Pittsburgh (appropriately enough). Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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