The Staleys team was founded by George Halas in 1919 in Decatur, moved to Chicago in 1921, and became the Bears in 1922. They began playing their home games at Wrigley Field, which has been the home to the Chicago Cubs baseball team since 1914. The team has engaged in a fierce rivalry with the Green Bay Packers since the National Football League’s inception; it remains one of the most famous rivalries in all professional sports.
Though the Bears got off to a successful start at the beginnings of the NFL, they have not been a winning franchise in the modern era. The team had won eight NFL championships (1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, and 1963) before the NFL and AFL merged in 1970. But since the Super Bowl was created, the Bears have only taken the top spot once, in 1985.
Halas coached the Bears until 1967 and kept full control of the team in the front office until his death in 1983. He was a member of the first class inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963 and the first president of the National Football Conference.
The Bears played their home games at Wrigley Field for 50 years before moving to Soldier Field in 1971. The stadium was completely rebuilt from 2002-2003, earning the nickname ‘New Soldier Field.’ Its contrasting modern and classic design is often described as looking like a spaceship resting inside the Coliseum.
Mike Ditka played for the Bears from 1961-1966 as a tight end, but his legacy came 20 years later when he was hired as head coach in 1982. He held the job for ten years and coached the team to their first and only Super Bowl win. Ditka was revered in Chicago and earned the nicknames ‘Iron Mike’ and ‘Da Coach.’ The 1985 Bears team is one of extreme significance in Chicago sports history, along with the 1984 Cubs, the 1990s Bulls, and the 2005 White Sox.
Since 1985, the Bears have only returned to the playoffs five times. They made it all the way to the Super Bowl in 2006 under head coach Lovie Smith but lost the title to the Indianapolis Colts.
In the last ten years, the Bears made the biggest trade in franchise history by acquiring quarterback Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos in 2009. Smith was fired in 2012 and replaced by Marc Trestman, who was fired in 2014. The current head coach is John Fox, who improved the 2015 team over its disastrous 2014 season but is now starting out slow in 2016. The team lost three out of four preseason games in August and is entering the regular season as underdogs.