Before the NFL was established, before the Chicago Bears, there was the Decatur Staleys. While many in Chicago might have heard of the Staley’s, few outside the Windy City have, and fewer know anything about the history of the Staleys … and, of those who know of the Staleys, so few know their history when it comes to Papa Bear, George Halas. The Staleys, you see, were an industrial league team. A.E. Staley, owner of the A.E. Staley Company had a great thing going to help boost company morale with a terrific company baseball team. Prior to 1919, Staley decided to field a football team as well. After losing their first game, 3-0, the Staleys jelled and went on to become one of the most dominant teams in football history. Their overall record of 6-1 was just a part of the story. Including their 3-0 loss, the Staleys outscored the opposition 294-13. Their star was Charlie Dressen, the same Charlie Dressen who would go on to a wonderful career in Major League Baseball as a player and a manager. George Halas, who tried to make it in the Majors with the New York Yankees, turned his attention to football and had a dream of creating a professional football league. So, he joined forces with A.E. Staley and ultimately became owner of the team. The rest, as they say, is history. But, the team that eventually became the Chicago Bears certainly established a terrific legacy and a rich history in their short existence playing in Decatur and joining me on Sports’ Forgotten Heroes to talk more about the history of the Decatur Staleys is Chris Serb. Chris, a terrific writer and researcher, is also the author of the book, “War Football: World War I and the Birth of the NFL.” On this episode of SFH, Chris brings his wealth of knowledge about the Staleys, which he discovered while doing research for his book, to the show for a wonderful discussion about a team that pre-dates the start of the National Football League.
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