I decided to do a countdown to the Chicago Bears season opener on September 8th versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Thanks to one of my Twitter followers, I decided to combine the countdown with a roster preview of sorts.
We’re Red Grange days away from kickoff! As I scrolled through the Bears’ roster, there was a noticeable hole at #77, but there is certainly no void in history and importance of the number. Red Grange’s #77 is retired and no Chicago Bear will ever wear that number again. So who is this Bears legend, known as the Galloping Ghost? Let’s find out.
Red Grange was a football legend before he joined the Chicago Bears. In fact, it’s been said that Papa Bear Halas got Grange to sign with the Bears to help legitimize professional football. Before Halas founded what’s become the NFL, college football was the stage for football.
Grange was all-world in high school, a four-sport star earning 16 varsity letters in football, baseball, basketball and track. As I read through Grange’s Wikipedia page, this stood out to me:
In his senior year, his team won every game but one in which they lost 39-0 to Scott High School in Toledo, Ohio.Knocked out in this game, Grange remained unconscious for two days, having difficulty speaking when he awoke.
You can’t imagine he’s ever play football again after that kind of an episode in today’s day and age. But Grange went on to the University of Illinois where he became a legend. As a collegian Grange amassed over 3300 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns in just 20 games.
When Grange signed with the Bears in 1925, he got a piece of the ticket sales for the barnstorming tour that helped put NFL on the map. His deal amounted to over $100,000 in an era where players typically earned $100 per game. Grange played just one season with the Bears before trying to start his own league to compete with the NFL. He came back to the Bears after his stint away, but a serious knee injury limited his ability to cut. I wonder if it was an ACL? Grange went on to play with the Bears from 1929- 1934, leading the Bears to two championships while earning All Pro honors twice.
Grange became a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, probably more for what he did for the league than any statistics or on-field accomplishments. He was named the #48 player in the NFL’s Top 100 of all time. Here’s the clip:
Pretty cool history lesson, huh?
We’re 77 days away from kickoff. Are you ready???