Chicago Bears Traditions

Bears in The Hall

Ed Healey

First player purchased by George Halas, who describes him as "most versatile tackle off all time." At Dartmouth (1916-1919) won three letters under Frank (the Iron Major) Cavanuagh and Dr. Clarence W. Spears with one year out for World War I duty overseas. Played in NFL's first two seasons with Rock Island. Bought in third year (1922) by Halas to settle $100 debt and in next five campaigns with the Bears was named All-Pro five times. Retired as building supply company executive.

Quoting Canton repository, August 9, 1965, before Healey's induction:

Walter Camp, father of All-America teams, watched the Chicago Bears play several occasions in 1924. During one game, they said he couldn't take his expert eyes off one man.

"Who is that magnificent tackle?" was his inquiry

"Ed Healey," he was told," Ed Healey of Dartmouth."

1920-22 Rock Island Independents

1922-27 Chicago Bears

Played college football at Dartmouth

Well, now, Camp was virtually flabbergasted.
"Wonder how I ever missed him at Dartmouth? He is the best tackle I ever saw!"

The reason camp missed him at Dartmouth was that big Ed wasn't a tackle during his college days. He was an end, and apparently not too good an end, either. It wasn't until he turned professional that Healey developed into a giant in stature and ability.

He launched his pro gridiron career in 1920 and played eight seasons with the Rock Island Independents and the Chicago Bears, the latter National Football League club getting him by purchase in 1922. He was just about everybody's all-pro for half a dozen years.

Healey, who took his place among the pro grid greats on his induction into the Professional Football Hall of Fame on September 8, 1964, was a sparkplug who helped the Bears to banner campaigns in 1923 and 1924.

The Bears lost only three games those two years but finished second to the Canton Bulldogs in 1923 and to the Cleveland Indians (the Canton franchise went to Cleveland for that one season) in 1924. Chicago and Cleveland split a two-game series in 1924, but the Clevelanders took the title on the strength of one more victory.

Veteran Bears' Coach Halas calls Healey the most versatile tackle of all time.

Healey figured in one of pro football's most unusual happenings in the 1924 season.

The Bears had a runner named Oscar Knop, from the University of Illinois, who was quite a speedster.

The play that was to bring Knop plenty of Fame occurred in a game against the Columbus Tigers at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

Paul Goebel of Michigan, an end for Chicago, was the intended receiver on a pass, but popped out of his arms and was snatched out of the air by Knop.

Oscar cuddled the pigskin and set off for the goal line as 6,000 fans screamed. The louder the screams the faster Knop ran, and the faster Knop ran, the louder the screams!

Knop was running toward the wrong goal!

Instead of heading for a touchdown, Knop was headed toward a safety and two points for Columbus!

Healey gave Knop hot pursuit. He chased Knop for about 30 yards. Finally, four yards from the Bears' goal line, Healey cut loose with a flying tackle that grounded Knop and save him the ignominy of scoring for the wrong team.

The Bears won the game, 12-6, but the next day, the headline in the Chicago paper read: "Backward, Turn Backward, Knop in They Fight."

Healey was a native of Springfield, Mass. He attended Pomfret Prep before going to Dartmouth, where he starred in 1916, 1917, and 1919. The year 1918 found him in the service during World War I.

Healey was the first president of the Chicago Bears Alumni Association, which was founded in 1937.

The association furnishes guidance to young active players and serves as a job-finding agency to help Bear cubs get a foothole in the business world.

"Fellowship is fine," Healey related, "But it isn't everything. We old Bears want to be as helpful as possible to the young ones."