In the early part of the 20th century, college football was the standard for the best that game had to offer. Some football teams were organized in capacities outside of college, but these were fledgling operations. However, progress was being made. It was in 1920 that most scholars say that professional football was born with a fairly solid organization that was originally hammered out in Canton, Ohio, at Ralph Hay’s Hupmobile showroom. At the time, some companies were sponsoring teams and the Staley Starch Company out of Decatur recruited George Halas to run their football team and to play on the squad as well while working at the plant. Halas had experience playing and coaching football at Great Lakes Naval school and he had been Rose Bowl MVP for his play in the January 1, 1919 contest. The Naval school beat the Mare Island Marines that day, 17-0. Halas had also played sports at the University of Illinois and via his college and military career. Also on Halas’s resume was engineering experience for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad and his play for the Hammond Pros team in 1919. And the young Chicago man also knew or had knowledge of many of the best athletes of the day. And certainly there was also something about Halas’s character and personality that suggested to Mr. Staley that he could manage an important venture for his company.
Like today’s headliner Bill Belichick, George Halas won 6 championships as coach. As owner, Halas won 8 championships. And it all began 100 years ago.
Image: Halas biographical montage by Bill Potter, Copyright William Potter.