The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team, which competes in North Division of the National Football League. Its history dates back to 1919 when A. E. Staley Food Starch Manufacturing Company established its own football club in Decatur, Illinois. Since George Chamberlain, a general superintendent of the company, wanted their club to keep pace with the best semi-professional teams, he invited George Halas and Edward Sternaman to run the franchise.
In 1920, both celebrated coaches started to train the Decatur Staleys. In 1921, they gained full control over it. They managed to purchase rights to a franchise from A. E. Staley for $ 5,000 and relocate it from Decatur to Chicago. According to the agreement, the original name should not be changed for one season.
In 1922, the Chicago Staleys received a new name. At that time, football players shared Wrigley Field stadium with the Chicago Cubs baseball team (a cub is a baby bear). When it came to team naming, the franchise owners decided to stick to the “bearish” theme, so the team changed its name to Chicago Bears. As for the color scheme, George Halas borrowed the colors of the University of Illinois in a darker shade of blue and orange.
The financial difficulties started after the 1932 Championship season made Edward Sternaman sell his shares. Being the sole owner of the franchise, George Halas fully controlled it until his death in 1983. After his death, the Bears were inherited by his oldest daughter Virginia McCaskey. Now the McCaskey family owns 80% of the franchise, Patrick Ryan and Andrew McKenna, executive chairman and director of Aon Corp. respectively, possess 19.7% of the club.
Chicago Bears logo history
The Chicago Bears had six official logos throughout their 100-year history. Two of them featured the image of a bear. The seventh version, unveiled in 1993, has never been actually used. The franchise owners returned to the 1974 logo, which is the current logo to this date.
The first logo was presented in 1920. Since the Decatur Staleys were owned by A. E. Staley Company, they employed the sponsor’s logo. It was a deliberate marketing decision to draw the public’s attention to food starch manufacture.
The logo looked like a circle divided into two equal horizontal parts. The circle was trimmed with a double outline. The upper half contained the blue-scripted letter “S” in a dark orange background. “Staleys Decatur” in white contrasted the blue background of the lower semicircle. The “Staleys” wordmark was written in capital printable characters. The “Decatur” wordmark imitated a handwriting font: the letter “D” was in uppercase and the remaining letters in lowercase.
After moving to Chicago and changing the name to Chicago Staleys, the team designed a new logo. The elements referred to A. E. Staley Company were removed, as the main accent was made on a sports concept. The logo included a black-outlined light brown ball for American football with “1920” in the center (the date of the franchise foundation). The “Staleys” lettering in orange with a blue outline was placed below. The font was in uppercase, with small serifs.
1940 – 1945
The Chicago Bears got its current name in 1940, and that was also the time when it got its first logo. It was an image of a black bear with a football in its paw. The bear running on its hind legs symbolized a strong and invincible player.
1946 – 1973
In 1946, the logo was replaced with a new one – a football with a navy blue bear lying on its top and clinging to it. The bear was not sketched as detailed as in the previous logo. The beast was depicted rater schematically: white lines stood out against a dark blue background to outline the body bends. Sharp claws, lowered eyebrows and an open mouth made the image pretty much aggressive. Neat white stitching trimmed the dark orange football with blue contours.
1962 – 1973
In 1962, the prototype of Bears current logo appeared on helmets. It was a white wishbone “C” with a black outline. Wishbone is a symbol of good luck. The earliest known use of the wishbone-C was by the University of Chicago in 1898. The Cincinnati Reds wear the same symbol as a cap logo at home and on the road from the 1960s. There is even a long debate of who stole the logo first: the Reds or the Bears.
1974 – present
In 1974, the stylized letter “C” became the official logo of the franchise. It was the same old 1962 wishbone. However, it changed color from white to orange with white trim and a dark blue outline. Orange stood for energy, optimism, and happiness; white symbolized purity and elegance; the black color denoted excellence and perseverance.
In the 1990s, the Chicago Bears experimented with alternative logos. One of the unused versions was a white-and-blue head of a roaring bear. It was placed over the orange letter “C” with a thick blue outline.