The Decatur Staleys.

George Halas was hired in 1920 by A. E. Staley of the Staley Manufacturing Co. (whose primary product was cornstarch) to form both a football and a baseball team for the company. In order to find opponents, Halas pushed the football team into the new league that was being formed, the American Professional Football Association. A severe recession in early 1921 forced Staley to lay off the athletes he had hired; he suggested to Halas that the football team should move to Chicago, and said he would provide $5000 to assist in the move if the club would keep the name "Staleys" for one season. Thus, in 1921, Halas's men were called the Chicago Staleys when they became the first official league champion. Despite the championship, the team lost money that first season in Chicago: about $70. The next year, the franchise was renamed the Bears -- to accentuate its association with the Cubs, with whom it shared Wrigley Field (hoping that some of the Cubs' success would rub off: how times change!) -- while the league was retitled to the National Football League (at George Halas's suggestion).
Edward "Dutch" Sternaman, who was Halas's teammate at the University of Illinois, was his partner during the early years of the Bears. Staley actually first approached Sternaman to form his teams; but Sternaman, though tempted, returned to Illinois to finish his degree. He joined the Staley company after graduating and helped Halas to first put the football team together, and later as co-owner move it to Chicago. Dutch's little brother Joey, another Illinois grad, became the Bears' first great quarterback during the '20s. The relationship between Halas and his partner grew increasingly stormy as the decade progressed, and Sternaman began devoting ever increasing amounts of time to other business interests. When the conflicts between the two began hurting the team's success at the beginning of the Great Depression, Halas bought Sternaman out.

Just as an aside: Dutch Sternaman has been credited with coining the phrase, "When in doubt, punt!" which he apparently used in a 1924 pre-game pep talk.

Moving to Chicago was not exactly a sure thing. The city already had a professional team: the Racine Cardinals -- named for their home field at 61st and Racine Avenue on Chicago's South Side (see #7 for the "Cardinals" nickname). The city had had two APFA franchises in 1920; the Cardinals had a nearby rival named the Chicago Tigers. The two teams hurt each other's attendance; they agreed their season-ending game in 1920 was for the rights to the city. The Cardinals won, and the Tigers disbanded as they had agreed. Under the circumstances, the Cardinals couldn't have been happy about Halas's transfer to Chicago for the 1921 season, but it obviously worked out. Evidently the Staleys were far enough away in Wrigley Field that they didn't threaten the Cardinals' financial viability -- although the rivalry that developed between the Bears and Cardinals became in some ways even more bitter than that with the Packers. Like the Bears and the league, the Cardinals also changed their name for the 1922 season: they switched to "the Chicago Cardinals" when Racine, Wis., was awarded an NFL franchise.

OLD-AFPA/NFL League Leaders (Pre- 1933) Scoring Points
1919 - Jim Thorpe, Canton (records incomplete for 1919)
1920 - Frank Bacon, Dayton 32
1921 - Elmer Oliphant, Buffalo 47
1922 - Hank Gillo, Racine 52
1923 - Paddy Driscoll, Chic-Cardinals 78
1924 - Joey Sternaman, Chicago 75
1925 - Charlie Berry, Pottsville 74
1926 - Paddy Driscoll, Chic-Cardinals 86
1927 - Jack McBride, NY Giants 57
1928 - Benny Friedman, Detroit 55
1929 - Ernie Nevers, Chic-Cardinals 85
1930 - Jack McBride, Brooklyn 56
1931 - Johnny Blood, Green Bay 84
1932 - Dutch Clark, Portsmouth 55

Rushing Att-Yrds Avg TD
1919 - Jim Thorpe, Canton (Records Incomplete for 1919)
1920 - Dutch Sternaman, Decautor 46 - 274 6.0 1
1921 - Eddie Novak, Rock Island 66 - 225 3.4 0
1922 - Al Elliot, Racine 85 - 419 4.9 2
1923 - Tex Grigg, Canton 78 - 439 5.6 3
1924 - Tex Hamer, Frankford 103 - 789 7.7 12
1925 - Barney Wentz, Pottsville 170 - 656 3.9 5
1926 - Barney Wentz, Pottsville 220 - 727 3.3 10
1927 - Charley Rogers, Frankford 120 - 508 4.2 2
1928 - Benny Friedman, Detroit 70 - 575 8.2 6
1929 - Red Grange, Chicago 130 - 552 4.2 2
1930 - Chuck Bennet, Portsmouth 141 - 744 5.3 5
1931 - Red Grange, Chicago 111 - 599 5.4 5
1932 - Cliff Battles, Boston 146 - 737 5.0 3

Field goals
1920- Dutch Sternaman, Decautor 3 Jim Thorpe, Canton 3
1921- Dutch Sternaman, Chicago 5 Elmer Oliphant, Buffalo 5
1922- Paddy Driscoll, Chi-Cardinals 8
1923- Paddy Driscoll, Chi-Cardinals 10
1924- Joey Sternaman, Chicago 9
1925- Paddy Driscoll, Chi-Cardinals 11
1926- Paddy Driscoll, Chicago 12
1927- Ken Mercer, Frankford 5
1928- Harry O’Boyle, Green Bay 3
1929- Chuck Weiser, Buffalo 3
1930- Frosty Peters, Prov-Portsmouth 2
1931- Ken Strong, Staten Island 2
1932- Dutch Clark, Portsmouth 3

1924 Green Bay Gazette All-pro Team
E- Joe Little Twig, Rock Island
E- Tillie Voss, Green Bay
T- Ed Healy, Chicago
T- Boni Petcoff, Columbus
G- Swede Youngstown, Buffalo
G- Stan Muirhall, Dayton
C- George Trafton, Chicago
Q- Joey Sternaman, Chicago
H- Charlie Way, Frankford
H- Benny Boyton, Buffalo
F- Doc Elliot, Cleveland

1925 Green Bay Gazette All-pro Team
E- Charlie Berry, Pottsville
E- Ed Lynch, Rochester
T- Ed Healy, Chicago
T- Guss Sonneburg, Detroit
G- Art Carney, New York
G- Jim McMillin, Chicago
C- Ralph Claypool, Chi-Cardinals
Q- Joey Sternaman, Chicago
H- Paddy Driscoll, Chi-Cardinals
H- Dave Noble, Cleveland
F- Jack McBride, New York


From H&R files

You won't find the 1921 Illinois-Notre Dame college football game in any record book. That's because it was played in Taylorville -- as the part of a "foolproof" betting scheme that backfired. And as an incident that triggered one of the most widespread scandals in college sports history.

In 1921, two of the best semipro football teams in the Midwest could be found in Carlinville and Taylorville. Carlinville had been the last team to defeat the powerful Taylorville -- 10-7 -- the year before.

The Taylorville rooters vowed that the next game, to be played at Taylorville, would be different. The Carlinville rooters decided to make sure it wouldn't.

Their plan: to hire a bunch of college students to overpower their rivals. And they went for the best they could find -- at Notre Dame. One Notre Dame player, Dick Seifert, came from Carlinville. And eventually they landed eight players from Knute Rockne's squad by offering $200 a piece.

The group included All-American end Eddie Anderson and all-conference fullback Chester Wynne, as well as the hometown Seifert.

The fix was on -- and the Carlinville rooters passed the word to bet the limit on the town team. No expense was spared for what the townfolk believed would be a financial windfall.

A special train was hired and a band was taken on the trip. Farmers from nearby towns arranged to join the caravan, most with a well-filled wallet. And the "clinching" of the game became common gossip in the Carlinville streets.

A bit too common, as it turned out. Word got back to Taylorville the week before the game about the plot and eagerness of the Carlinville fans to bet on the outcome.

At first, the Taylorville team decided to go ahead and play anyway -- and refuse all bets.

After all, Taylorville was undefeated and had as its quarterback Charlie Dressen -- the one-time quarterback of the professional Decatur Staleys who later became a longtime major league baseball manager.

But others had a better idea.

Why not beat Carlinville at its own game? A couple of Illinois players -- Roy "Dope" Simpson and Vern Mullen -- lived in Taylorville and were quickly contacted.

And within a day or two, nine Illinois players had agreed to take part -- including halfback Laurie Walquist and quarterback Joe Sternaman, both of whom would later play with the Chicago Bears.

The Taylorville plotters were better able to keep their secret.

Taylorville's plan was to use its regular team in the first half and substitute the Illinois players in the second half. Only Simpson and Mullen, being hometowners, would play the entire game.

Carlinville dominated play in the early going, once getting close enough to try a drop-kick field goal that went wide.

The teams traded possessions, then Taylorville got a decisive break. Mullen broke through the line to block a Carlinville punt and returned it 50 yards to the Carlinville two-foot-line. After two line plunges failed, Dressen swept around right end for what proved to be the game's only touchdown and the lone score of the first half.

And once the Illinois players entered the game in the third quarter, Carlinville's offense stalled completely. Only once did the Carlinville-Notre Dame team cross midfield.

By contrast, Taylorville-Illinois mounted three long drives, each of which resulted in a field goal.

Final score: Taylorville-Illinois 16, Carlinville-Notre Dame 0. And depending on which estimate one believes -- Taylorville $50,000 to $100,000, Carlinville $0.

Though the game was well-publicized, the college players' participation wasn't revealed until late January 1922, when the University of Wisconsin started an investigation into Wallquist's eligibility to play basketball. The punishment was automatic.

The nine Illinois players were banned from further intercollegiate competition. The eight Notre Dame players faced a much harsher penalty -- expulsion from school.

But the scandal had only begun.

Similar violations involving semipro football and baseball teams were uncovered at almost every major university in the Midwest.

It led to a revision of eligibility rules and codes in the Big Ten Conference -- and the appointment of a full-time commissioner.

From February 22, 1981, paper

1920 - 1921, The Staley Football Club

Photo supplied by A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. Download = 234K

Note: A special thanks to Human Resources Director Mary Matiya and the A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. for taking time out of her busy schedule and compiling this information and sending this to us!! You're awesome Mary! Thanks!

Contrary to popular belief, football was around a lot longer than George S. Halas and the Chicago Bears. In fact, the first football game to be played (recorded that is..) was on August 31, 1895 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Around the turn of the century, professional football found its roots in the Ohio and Pennsylvania areas. The teams were mostly thrown together, and consisted of "roughnecks who generally couldn't find a job." These small town teams were a great way to pick up a few extra bucks, but, were looked upon as not really football. That title was bestowed on the college football teams.

The A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company opened operations in the Decatur, Illinois area in 1912. After struggling to find its foothold in the new location, the company began to look for areas to build employee relations, boost morale, and promote the starch making company. Since both Mr. Staley, Sr and his general superintendent G.E. Chamberlain were both avid sports fans, sponsoring company teams seemed to be the way to go.

The "Staley Fellowship Club" started off sponsoring a baseball team in 1917. It did well in its first season, winning the Commercial League and City Championship. For the next five years, the baseball team would continue in its success.

Around the same time the baseball club was formed, a young George S. Halas was an end on the University of Illinois football team, an accomplished outfielder for the Illinois baseball team, and studying towards a degree in civil engineering. The stalwart play of this 6 foot, 170lb lad had just helped to win the Big Ten Championship for Illinois and he was being watched closely by baseball's New York Yankees.

Upon graduation, Halas joined the Navy to serve in World War I. As an ensign, he was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Training Station and played on their very strong football team. Some of his teammates were big names like Northwestern University halfback John (Paddy) Driscoll and Washington University of St. Louis back Jimmy Conzelman. The Great Lakes team went on to with the Rose Bowl on January 1, 1919 (a game in which Halas caught two passes for touchdowns, and intercepted a pass and returned it 77 yards). The outstanding play of Halas (and the contacts he made at Great Lakes) would serve him well in the years to come.

Around the same time Halas was starring in the Rose Bowl game, the first football and basketball teams were being formed by the Staley Fellowship Club. The first football team won the Central Illinois Championship. The star of the 1919 Staley baseball team, Charlie Dressen (who went on to be a major league baseball star and coach), was the quarterback for the football team.

Even though Halas had success on the gridiron, he had loftier dreams ahead of him.. that of playing in a New York Yankee uniform. During spring training, Halas showed his batting prowess to the Yankees and seemed to be a shoe-in at right field. Halas' demise, however, came on a triple and the slide into third caused a nasty injury to his right hip.

Halas still made the team, starting in his first major league game against the Boston Red Sox. Halas failed to get a hit. After a string of minor injuries and no luck with the bat, Halas was released after a month. He played out the rest of the 1919 season with a St. Paul minor league team in Minnesota. Halas seemed to catch the eye of the team's managers and was offered a contract for the 1920 season. Halas wanted the same money as the Yankees offered him, but, the Yankees wouldn't release Halas' rights to St. Paul. Halas was finished with baseball forever.

Halas returned to Chicago and, with help from his engineering degree, secured a job with the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad in the bridge department for $55 a week. Halas continued to play football for extra cash with the Hammond, Indiana team on the weekends with some of the same players from the Great Lakes team.

About this time, A.E. Staley's baseball team was enjoying great success and it was decided to beef up the football and basketball programs. Since the baseball team was captained by one of the greatest old time major league pitchers, "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity, Staley decided he needed some major talent to command his football team as well. Someone who could organize the program, recruit players, plus coach and play on the team.

Staley received a tip that a young bridge engineer from Chicago might be his man. They invited him for a personal interview and was offered the job almost on the spot. He was to learn the starch business, play on the company baseball team, plus put together the 1920 company football team. Hence the beginning of the Chicago Bears.

The 1920 Decatur Staleys

Halas started work in the company's mill house on March 18, 1920. While holding down the new job, Halas also played on the 1920 baseball team (Halas would confide later that the chance to play under McGinnity was one attraction to the new job offer) and batted over .300. Now the task of putting together the football program was at hand.

One key for Halas' recruiting success was in the deal he made with Staley upon accepting the job. Each player was guaranteed a job at the company. On top of this, the team was allowed to practice up two hours a day, during company time... with pay! This allowed Halas to go on a recruiting spree that football had never previously seen.

Halas hand-picked a roster of college stars and even took on a couple of players who were from the previous team. The following is a roster of some of the more notable names of the first team:

Guy Chamberlain, Nebraska
Paddy Driscoll Jimmy Conzelman, Missouri
Bob Koehler, former Captain at Northwestern
Burt Ingwersen, University of Illinois
Walter "Pard" Pierce, University of Pennsylvania
Edward "Dutch" Sternaman, University of Illinois
George Trafton, Notre Dame
Andy Feichtinger, Portland
Ranney Young, Decatur and Millikin University
Hugh Blacklock, of the Michigan Aggies
Ross Petty, University of Illinois
Jerry Jones, Notre Dame
Roy Adkins, Decatur and Millikin University
Hub Shoemake, Northwestern
Kile MacWherter, Decatur and Millikin University
Charlie Dressen, Jack Mintun, and Walter Veach from the 1919 Staley Team.

While Halas was compiling this team of stars, he faced the dilemma of putting together a set schedule. Even though there were attempts to put together a league before Halas began calling together the Staley team, teams were mostly a loosely thrown together bunch and scheduling of games was a nightmare. Many times scheduled games were tanked by teams due to more lucrative deals with other teams.

It was about that time that Halas wrote a letter to Ralph Hay of the Canton Bulldogs, who tried to start a league in his automobile showroom in July, 1919. The letter detailed the need to form a league and develop a schedule. Halas' letter quite possibly rekindled the fire to create a league, and resulted in a meeting to discuss rules that threatened to kill the league of the previous year.

September 17, 1920 saw the first official meeting of the teams in Canton, Ohio. There were 11 teams total. It was decided that each team would pay a franchise fee of $100 to belong to the league (this was probably meant to show the legitamacy of the league because no money ever changed hands). Several rules were adopted in order to prevent the near-collapse of the previous year's league.

The Decatur Staleys played their first game at Staley Field in Decatur, Illinois on October 3, 1920 against the Moline Tractors. 2000 fans were on-hand to see the result of Halas' recruiting efforts. The Staleys shut out the Tractors... 20-0.

Halas' All-Star team ran like a well oiled machine that year! They completed the season with a record of 10-2-1, and went to the Western Division Championship. The championship game was held at Cub Park on December 4th in front of 11,000 spectators. Even though the game ended in a tie, the Staleys took home the title (due to their record).

The following is the overall results of the 1920 season:

Staleys 20

Moline 0

Staleys 27

Kewanee 7

Staleys 7

Rock Island 0

Staleys 10

Chicago Tigers 0

Staleys 29

Rockford 0

Staleys 20

Champaign 0

Staleys 28

Hammond, Indiana 7

Staleys 0

Rock Island 7

Staleys 3

Minneapolis Marines 0

Staleys 6

Chicago Tigers 0

Staleys 6

Chicago Cardinals 7

Staleys 10

Chicago Cardinals 0

Staleys 0



For their hard work, each player received $2,200 that year. The Staleys were the highest salaried pro team in the country! Unfortunately for A.E. Staley, his company took a net loss of $14,406.36.

The 1921 Chicago Staleys

With a vow from A.E. Staley at the end of the 1920 season to "field an even stronger team in 1921," Halas again went to work. With the incentives from the company and the previous seasons winning record, Halas was able to drum up a very formidable team. There were some holdovers from the previous season, but, here's a list of the more notable players from the 1921 team:

- All-American Halfback "Chic" Harley, quarterback Pete Stichcomb, and lineman "Tarzan" Taylor from Ohio State
- Fullbacks Kenneth Huffine and George Bolan from Purdue
- Russell Smith from Illinois
- All-American Ralph Scott from Wisconsin
- Lou Usher from Syracuse

Halas' eye for talent wasn't wasted on the big names in college ball. He was able to pluck some awesome talent from some of the lesser known areas of the country:

- Harry Englund (who's experience was no more than high school football in Rockford, Ill. and a couple of years semi-pro ball with a Rockford team).
- Richard Barker from Ames College
- Nelson Rupp from Dennison

Unfortunate for the 1921 team was the fact that the harsh economic times turned the country upside-down. The A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company was not immune to the plight. Staley had to look deep into his operation to determine how to stay afloat. The obvious choice had to be the intramural athletic programs. Talks began about this time to determine the fate of the football program.

Eventually, Staley offered the team franchise to Halas, and even sweetened the pot with $5,000 to cover the team expenses for the year. The team would move north to Chicago where the crowd size was considerably bigger, thereby increasing the chances of the team becoming profitable and successful. The only stipulation was that the team would be called the "Chicago Staleys" for that year. Halas accepted the offer.

After the second game of the season, armed with a deal with the owner of Chicago's Wrigley Field and a partner in Edward "Dutch" Sternaman, the Chicago Staleys played the remainder of their home games in Chicago.

Halas' recruiting handiwork paid off again in 1921, but, in a bigger way. The team became the first Illinois team to bring the National Pro Championship to Illinois with a record of 9-1-1!! Here's the results of their winning season:

Staleys 35

Waukegan 0

Staleys 14

Rock Island 10

Staleys 16

Rochester, NY 13

Staleys 7

Dayton, OH 0

Staleys 20

Detroit 0

Staleys 21

Cleveland 7

Staleys 6

Buffalo 7

Staleys 20

Green Bay 0

Staleys 10

Buffalo 7

Staleys 10

Canton 0

Staleys 0

Chicago Cardinals 0

By virtue of their awesome record, and the tie in the Championship Game with the Chicago Cardinals, the Staleys were the National Champs in 1921 and well on their way to become the most winningest football franchise in NFL history!!