This week in history: ‘Papa Bear’ steps down

On May 27, 1968, Bears coach George “Papa Bear” Halas officially announced his retirement. It made the front page of the Chicago Daily News that day.

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Front page of the Chicago Daily News announcing George Halas’ retirement.

Front page of the Chicago Daily News announcing George Halas’ retirement.

Chicago Daily News

As reported in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Few Chicago Bears departures have hit fans as hard as founder and famed coach George Halas’ retirement announcement.

On May 27, 1968, Halas shocked fans by announcing his retirement, according to a front-page article of the Chicago Daily News.

Halas, who had an “arthritic hip condition,” told a Daily News reporter “half-kiddingly” that he began contemplating his retirement “when I tried to run after a referee who was pacing off a penalty against us and I wasn’t gaining on him.” 

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The lauded Bears coach said he felt tempted to stay on for another year for the team’s golden jubilee, “rounding out 50 years as a player and coach,” but Halas said he had no regrets.

The next big question was: Who would take the reins?

The coach assured readers he’d announce his replacement at a luncheon the following day, the report said, but rumors were already surfacing that Jim Dooley would be given the top job — and they proved to be right.

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