Chicago Bears Traditions

Bears in The Hall

Joe Stydahar

A four-time all-NFL tackle, Stydahar missed two seasons while serving in the armed forces during World War II but returned to lead the Bears to the 1946 world championship.

He went on to a successful coaching career including leading the Rams to the '51 title as a head coach then came back to the Bears as an assistant coach in 1963 and 1964, winning a title in 1963.

The Bears dominated the NFL from 1940-46, winning four world championships in seven seasons. George Halas' team, dubbed the "Monsters of the Midway" early in the decade, revolutionized pro football with the T-formation.

Led by future Hall of Famers Sid Luckman, George McAfee, Danny Fortmann, Clyde "Bulldog" Turner and Joe Stydahar, the Bears' offense rewrote entire sections of the NFL record book during nine winning seasons.

The Bears opened the decade by annihilating the Washington Redskins 73-0 in the NFL Championship Game at Griffith Stadium in what remains the most lopsided contest in league history. The victory avenged a 7-3 loss to the Redskins two weeks earlier in the same venue.

When the score reached 66-0, officials asked the Bears to stop attempting extra points because so many footballs had been kicked into the stands that only a few remained. Halas complied by instructing his team to pass on the final two extra point tries.

"We needed a 50-man line against their power," lamented Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh.

The Associated Press described the Bears' jubilant locker room celebration as "quite a scene. Thirty-three mastodons charging around a room 24 feet square, waving their huge arms and yelling like a pack of tarzans wired for amplification."

Some observers felt that the turning point in the game came when Redskins end Charlie Malone dropped a sure touchdown pass with the Bears leading 7-0. When asked whether a Malone touchdown would have changed the outcome, Baugh said: "Yeah, it would have been 73-6."

The Bears repeated as world champions in 1941, winning the NFL title by blasting the New York Giants 37-9. But that game was almost anti-climatic after Chicago hammered Green Bay 33-14 in the league's first divisional playoff. It remains the only post-season meeting between the two longtime rivals, who finished the 1941 season with identical 10-1 records.

A total of 45 Bears players served in various branches of the United States armed forces during World War II. The only Bear to lose his life in the war was Young Bussey, who was killed at the battle of Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines on Jan. 7, 1945.

The heavily-favored Bears entered the 1942 NFL Championship Game with an 11-0 record and a 16-game winning streak, but their bid for a third straight title was thwarted in a 14-6 loss to the Redskins at Griffith Stadium.

They rebounded the following season behind Luckman, who threw five touchdown passes as the Bears won their third NFL championship in four years with a 41-21 rout of the Washington Redskins Dec. 26, 1943 at Wrigley Field.

Stydahar, McAfee, Fortmann and Turner were among the Hall of Famers who starred for the Bears in the decade.