From their introduction to the league, the Bears produce a true legend of the NFL, in ‘Papa Bear’ George Halas, who was player/Head Coach/Owner of the club throughout the 1920’s, had four stints as Head Coach, and remained Owner until his death in 1983.
Era Of Success
Throughout the inter war years up until the end of the Second World War, the Bears were a major contender and were fighting for the NFL Championship, reaching 9 NFL Championship games between 1932-46, winning on six occasions.
During this time, the Bears created classic rivalries with teams like the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins in memorable Championship games, and with division rivals the Minnesota Vikings, and most famously the Green Bay Packers, known as ‘the oldest rivalry in football’.
Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, the Bears slowed down, losing their killing instinct somewhat, with two NFL Championship appearances in 20 years, losing to the Giants in 1956, and then gaining revenge in 1963.
Mike Ditka- Player And Coach
In the 1961 NFL Draft, the Bears chose big Tight End ‘Iron’ Mike Ditka as their first round pick. Ditka was a force to be reckoned with in his 6 years at the club, as Rookie of the Year, 5 Pro Bowl appearances, and the NFL Title in 1963. He would go on to play in Philadelphia, and win a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys, but Chicago would not hear the last of Ditka.
* Da Bears: Butkus, Urlacher and Singletary; Oh My!
* What is the Super Bowl Shuffle?
* NFL Rivalries
Following their win in 1963, the Bears returned to the wilderness in terms of results, but in that time they began building a team to challenge for titles again; in 1975, the Bears drafted Half Back Walter Peyton, who name is now synonymous with charity and work in the community, in 1982 Mike Ditka returned to Chicago as Head Coach, and in turn drafted Quarterback Jim McMahon.
In 1984, the Bears made the playoffs and advanced to the NFC Championship game, but were undone by the 15-1 San Francisco 49ers, who went on to win the Super Bowl. But a year later, the Bears were determined to go one better, drafting iconic Defensive Lineman ‘The Refrigerator’ William Perry, and in the 1985 season, they themselves went 15-1, often using Perry as a part time Fullback, using his size to break through the line.
The Bears strength along with their dominant defence took them to Super Bowl XX in New Orleans, where they took apart the New England Patriots 46-10 for the clubs ninth NFL title and their first in over 20 years. The Bears remained a top team in the NFL, winning six division titles in the 1980’s, but they failed to return to the Super Bowl and eventually slipped away again in the 90’s.
2000s and a Return To Form?
At the turn to the Millennium, the Bears looked to return to the days of strong defences and high scoring offences, drafting Linebacker Brian Urlacher in 2000, who over the years has become a future Hall of Famer. But it wasn’t till 2004, and the introduction of new Head Coach Lovie Smith that the Bears began to roll again, winning their division in 2005, but failing in the playoffs, and then in 2006, they finished top seed in the NFC at 13-3 and returned to the Super Bowl.
However, at Super Bowl XLI, they were beaten by Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts 29-17, and have once again lost their drive for playoff football.