In the first decade of the NFL, the League was establishing itself and working out some inconsistency with the member teams and their schedules. At first, the number of games played varied from team-to-team. Teams formed and disbanded quickly. Of the inaugural season teams, only the Decatur Staleys/Chicago Bears and the Chicago/Saint Louis/Arizona Cardinals survived. Stronger markets were added and eventually the schedules were made consistent.
On September 24, 1933, the Bears opened the season with a 14—7 win over the Green Bay Packers. In 1933, the NFL went to a consistent 11-game schedule that would last until the war years.
On September 26, 1943, the Bears and Packers opened the 10-game season in a 21–21 tie. The War was taking its toll on the NFL and there were only eight active teams that year.
On September 29, 1946, the Bears opened the 11-game season with a 30–7 win over the Green Bay Packers. Sid Luckman was the Bears quarterback.
On September 28, 1947, the Bears would open the 12-game season losing to the Green Bay Packers, 29–20. The NFL would stick to a 12-game schedule until 1961.
On September 17, 1961, the Chicago Bears began their season by playing the Minnesota Vikings. The NFL regular schedule began a week earlier than the previous season as teams adjusted to their new 14-game regular season. It was the expansion-team Vikings first game of their inaugural season. They beat the Bears, 37–13, with Fran Tarkenton‘s 17 completions on 23 attempts for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns. Beating the Bears in the opener was a good first step for the franchise, but the Vikings would end up 3–13 for the season including a 52–35 loss to the Bears on December 17.
On September 3, 1978, the Chicago Bears began their first 16-game season by playing the Saint Louis Cardinals. The NFL regular schedule began 2 weeks earlier than the previous season as teams adjusted to the longer regular season. The Bears beat the Cardinals, 17–10. Bob Avellini was the Bears starting quarterback and Walter Payton and Roland Harper combined for 194 yards.
On September 12, 2021, the Chicago Bears begin their first 17-game season by playing the Los Angeles Rams.
Our NFL Schedule history (pre-2021) first appeared in Patrick McCaskey’s Sportsmanship book.
New Sporting Chance Press Football Book for Youth:
PAPA BEAR AND THE CHICAGO BEARS’ WINNING WAYS reviews the exciting story of George Halas and his dynamic role in professional football for those in middle school and older. Halas who was present in the first days of the National Football League (NFL) all the way into the modern age of football. Author Patrick McCaskey, a Chicago Bears Vice President and Director, is a grandson of Papa Bear George Halas. McCaskey highlights his grandfather’s life with key events from the 20th century. McCaskey follows Halas as a student, athlete, soldier, coach, team owner—a man of commerce and community. Halas’s 20th century path is laid out before readers.
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