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'Papa Bear' Halas honored with statue

The Bears on Sunday unveiled a statue of George Halas during a private ceremony just outside Halas Hall, the team's training facility that's named after the legendary Hall of Famer.

The statue was created by sculptor Chad Fisher out of white bronze. It weighs 1,600 pounds, stands 8'8" on a granite base and features Halas with his right arm extended pointing his index finger, presumably leading his team into battle. The base of the statue lists the various roles Halas filled with the Bears: Player, Founder, Coach and Owner.

Bears Hall of Fame middle linebacker Dick Butkus attended the ceremony along with former teammates Gale Sayers, Ronnie Bull, Johnny Morris and Bob Wetoska, all of whom were coached by Halas.

Today marks one year since the statue of Bears legendary founder George Halas was set and unveiled at Halas Hall.

"I'm not sure what the statue is made out of," Butkus said, "but I do know this: Whatever it is it's not as strong nor as tough as George Halas was in the flesh."

A Chicago native who starred at the University of Illinois, Halas was a pro football pioneer. He helped create what would become the NFL when he joined representatives from 10 other teams in Canton, Ohio, in 1920 to found the American Professional Football Association.

Halas moved the Decatur Staleys to Chicago in 1921 and they were renamed the Chicago Bears in 1922. "Papa Bear" was named to the NFL's 1920s All-Decade Team as a player and later became the winningest coach in NFL history with 324 victories, a record since surpassed by Don Shula.

Serving as Bears coach for four separate 10-year stints, Halas led the franchise to six NFL championships in 1921, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1946 and 1963. He is a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having been enshrined in 1963.

Speaking at Sunday's ceremony, Butkus said that he wasn't interested in getting involved in a bidding war between the two teams that drafted him, the Bears and the Denver Broncos of the rival AFL.

"I was born in Chicago," Butkus said. "Born to be a Bear. Born to play for Papa Bear."

Halas' daughter, Bears owner Virginia McCaskey, also spoke at the ceremony, telling those gathered: "We're all grateful for this day, for all the days we've had and for all the days to come."

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