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This week in Bears history: March 16-22


With the NFL set to celebrate its 100th birthday on Sept. 17, 2020, here's a look at what transpired this week in Bears history:

March 16

In 1917, Dante Magnani was born. Magnani played running back for three seasons with the Bears in 1943, 1946 and 1949. He appeared in 26 games with 15 starts, rushing for 646 yards and two touchdowns on 152 carries. Magnani helped the Bears win NFL championships in 1943 and 1946. In the 1943 title game, he had touchdown receptions of 36 and 66 yards from Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman in a 41-21 win over the Redskins. Magnani's career was interrupted in 1944-45 when he served in the Navy during World War II. He passed away on Dec. 23, 1985 at the age of 68.

March 17

In 1912, Joe Stydahar was born. The first draft pick in Bears history, Stydahar was selected with the sixth overall pick in the inaugural NFL Draft in 1936. Stydahar was named first-team All-Pro in each of his first five seasons with the Bears from 1936-40. At 6-4 and 233 pounds, he was huge for his era. Stydahar helped the Bears win NFL championships in 1940 and '41 before his NFL career was interrupted in 1943-44 when he served in the Navy during World War II. Stydahar returned to the Bears after the war and helped them win another league title in 1946. He served as an assistant coach on the Bears' 1963 championship team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967. Stydahar passed away on March 23, 1977 at the age of 65.

March 18

In 1920, George Halas met in Chicago with George Chamberlain, who was the general superintendent of the A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company in Decatur, Ill. Chamberlain offered Halas the opportunity to learn the starch business and be the company's athletic director and football coach. He could also play on the Staley football and baseball teams. Halas accepted the offer and created the Decatur Staleys football team, which moved to Chicago in 1921 and became the Chicago Bears in 1922.

March 19

In 1970, 50 years after he helped create the Bears and the NFL, Halas was elected the first president of the newly-formed National Football Conference as the NFL merged with the AFL and split into two conferences.

March 20

In 2018, the Bears matched an offer sheet that Kyle Fuller signed with the Green Bay Packers and inked the veteran cornerback to a four-year contract. "We could not be happier to have Kyle under contract for four more years," general manager Ryan Pace said at the time. "We feel he is an ascending player on our top 10 defense and we look forward to him having many more productive seasons here in Chicago." Fuller responded with his best pro season; he was voted first-team All-Pro and named to his first Pro Bowl after tying for the NFL lead with a career-high seven interceptions.

March 21

In 1959, former center Jay Hilgenberg was born. Hilgenberg played his first 11 seasons with the Bears from 1981-91 after signing with them as an undrafted free agent from Iowa. He anchored one of the best offensive lines in NFL history for a decade, helping the Bears win six division championships, one conference title and one Super Bowl. Hilgenberg was a five-time All-Pro who started in seven straight Pro Bowls from 1985-91.

March 22

In 1960, former left tackle Jimbo Covert was born. Covert played his entire eight-year NFL career with the Bears from 1983-90 after being selected with the sixth pick in the first round of the 1983 draft out of Pittsburgh. Covert was a two-time first-team All-Pro who helped the Bears win six division championships, one conference title and one Super Bowl. He will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020 in September.