What Does the GSH Mean on a Chicago Bears Jersey?

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You’ve probably spotted the letters “GSH” on the left sleeve of the Chicago Bears’ jerseys if you’ve watched them play in the National Football League. The embroidered initials on the shirts memorialise George Stanley Halas, who created and controlled the Bears from 1920 through 1983. Halas had an interesting life and a memorable time as the team’s owner.

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Halas’ Childhood

Halas was born in Chicago on February 2, 1895, to Greek and Slavic immigrants. He got a degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, before enlisting in the United States Navy to fight in World War I.

Halas played briefly for the New York Yankees after leaving the Navy, but he suffered a hip ailment and was unable to smash curveballs, putting an end to his baseball career.

Founder of the National Football League

In 1920, Halas accepted a job offer from the Staley Starch Works in Decatur, Illinois, to work for the firm and coach the company’s football and baseball teams. Many businesses had their own sports teams during this time, with employees playing a variety of positions.

Halas attended a meeting in Chicago of a new football league called the American Professional Football Association shortly after becoming coach. Halas joined the Decatur Staleys, a team in the association at the time. The American Professional Football Association was renamed the National Football League in 1924, making Halas one of the league’s first owners.

Man of the Renaissance

Halas played numerous positions with the Decatur Staleys, who ultimately became the Chicago Bears, in addition to coaching and controlling the team until 1929. He was the team’s business manager and served as what is today known as a general manager, scouting and signing talent to play for the squad. He had a keen eye for talent and brought numerous stars to the Bears, including Harold “Red” Grange, one of the league’s first superstars.

Halas went on to serve in WWII. He reenlisted in the Navy following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, despite being well into his forties, and planned leisure and relaxation activities for the sailors stationed in the South Pacific. He was also a man of inconsistency. Halas was a pious man who was devoted to his faith and family. He didn’t smoke or drink, yet those who knew him recognised him as one of the most foul-mouthed men they had ever met.

Chicago’s success

The owner of Staley Starch Works understood at the end of the 1920 season that Decatur was not a profitable market for even a good pro football team, so he persuaded Halas to move the team to Chicago. He agreed to pay Halas $5,000 in exchange for Halas renaming the squad the Chicago Staleys for one season.

Halas’ Bears won six NFL championships, all prior to the Super Bowl era. They also won three divisional titles and 15 times finished second in the division. In all but six of his teams’ seasons, they finished with a winning record.

An Ingenious Coach

Halas coached the Bears for 40 seasons in a row, and he set several professional football records. He was the first coach to have his team practise every day, and he was the first to have his staff and players examine game footage.

The Bears were the first team to go on a public appearance tour to allow fans to meet the players and get enthused about the season under Halas’ leadership. His coaching staff was the first to implement the T-formation, resulting in supremacy until other coaches followed suit. The Bears were also the first team to broadcast games on the radio.

A Football History

Halas was involved in every aspect of the Chicago Bears’ operations until his death in 1983 due to pancreatic cancer. The man known to his teammates as “Papa Bear” was actively connected with the team he owned for 64 seasons, and he is the only person to have been involved with the NFL for all 50 years. During his stint with the Bears, he earned the moniker “Mr. Everything.”

Keeping Your Word

The Bears wanted to honour their original owner and the guy who helped shape the team after Halas passed away. They agreed to put Halas’ initials on the players’ jerseys in perpetuity. Virginia McCaskey, his daughter, is now the Bears’ majority owner.

Although Halas did not witness the Bears’ first Super Bowl victory, the team has kept his name alive in the minds of Bears supporters since his death.