- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"I don't know. I just knew my own."
Which was what?
"I liked to win and I fought for everything in the book. Nothing else mattered." Pause. "That's all."
"Cards, pictures, magazine articles, books, old programs—these are sent in. Then the usual requests for autographed pictures and footballs. (These requests, again, come from people of all ages, in all walks of life.)...
"Unless I have an appointment for lunch, my lunch is brought in. At this time, I read The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger and Janeway."
Coach Halas has lived virtually all his days in Chicago, starting at 1850 South Ashland Ave. He was born in 1895, when Grover Cleveland was President. It is hoary journalistic custom to certify American antiquity by citing the President in office at the subject's moment of birth. This tradition is exceeded in uselessness only by the one wherein the size of a distant patch of earth is identified as being equivalent to the size of a couple of disparate states. Thus, for example. Yemen is equal to Nebraska and Virginia put together, which they are not. George Halas is the age of Senator Joseph Biden, Tatum O'Neal and Billie Jean King put together. Think about it that way.
His birth date is Feb. 2, which is Groundhog Day or, on the Roman Catholic calendar, Candlemas; in either case, Feb. 2 is the first official day for looking ahead to spring planting—surely, a felicitous day to be born.
Halas' father was an immigrant tailor, from Pilsen in what is now Czechoslovakia, but in Halas' Chicago pretty near everybody was an immigrant, and he recalls no discrimination. Of his childhood, Halas volunteers these three things, in order: 1) the addresses where he lived, 2) the observation, "That's where I learned to work," and 3) detailed recollections of playing games and attending them—most especially watching Tinker to Evers to Chance at the old Cub Park, which was located at the corner of Polk and Wood ("Very few people remember that").
Then there was college—he lettered in football, baseball and basketball at the University of Ellanoy—followed by the Great War and the season of baseball. The rest is pro football. And for a fact, the early years of Halas and his Bears are the early history of the game itself. Halas, six feet and 170 pounds, played end and was known for his toughness and skill, as well as for his eloquence in the illegal use of the hands. He was coach from the team's inception—the first year as the Decatur Staleys, the second as the Chicago Staleys, then the Bears in 1922, and soon, in legend, the Monsters of the Midway. Papa Bear and the Monsters of the Midway!