Chicago Bears: Best Player by Decade – 1940s

Chicago Bears, Staley Bear

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bears have had a lot of success in their long history. They have many Hall of Fame players and players who have impacted the team in so many positive ways. Continuing in our series on the greatest players of the different decades the Bears have been in existence, we look at the 1940s and quarterback Sid Luckman.

We all know that the Chicago Bears have had some great players in the past. Names like Dick Butkus, Red Grange, and Bronko Nagurski all bring to mind the greatness of the NFL’s greatest team.

In our look at the Bears’ greatest players by decade, we are now in the 1940s. The 1940s were a boon for the Bears but a tough time for the country. World War II had sapped some of the manpower out of the National Football League leaving mere shells of teams to carry things on at home. The Bears, however, were able to keep playing well thanks to their quarterback, Sid Luckman.

Sidney Luckman was born on November 21, 1916, in Brooklyn, New York. Luckman was interested in football at an early age and played the game in high school. He was so good, he garnered the attention of several colleges and eventually picked Columbia as his school of choice.

Chicago Bears’ owner George Halas liked what he had heard about Luckman and his college career. He figured that Luckman could run the Bears’ offense. Of particular interest to Halas was the fact that Luckman could run the T formation which was becoming something that Halas wanted to perfect. Interestingly enough, Halas asked another team, the “then” Pittsburgh Pirates, to draft Luckman and then trade him to the Chicago Bears. The move, at first, backfired.

Luckman told Halas that he didn’t want to play professional football and wanted to work in private business. Doing what he does best, Halas worked on trying to persuade Luckman to play professional football and join the Bears. When Halas presented Luckman and his wife a $5,000 contract, they did not hesitate. Luckman quickly signed on the dotted line.

The highly specialized offense that the Bears were building needed someone like Luckman to run it and run it he did. The T-formation was the “new wave” in professional football much like the west coast offense or the run and shoot once were.

The Bears and Luckman went to the NFLChampionship game in 1940. The team won the game in resounding fashion, 73-0. The Bears won championships in 1940, 1941, 1943 and 1946. Luckman was a big reason why they ended up winning so many games. The T Formation was a hit and so was Luckman.

During the ’40s, Luckman ended up serving some time in the Merchant Marine. He did not practice with the team when he was in the continental United States but he was allowed to play on game days. He ended his service in 1946 and went back to his full-time job with the Bears.

Luckman was and still is one of the best quarterbacks in Chicago Bears’ history. He still holds a few records and is knows as one of the most winningest players in Bears’ history.

Some of what he was able to do during his time with the Bears included being named to the All-Pro team five times, being crowned the NFL’s leader in passing yards and touchdowns for three seasons, as well as tying the NFL record for seven touchdowns in a game.

After his retirement, Luckman became vice president of the Bears for a while. He then went into private business. Luckman was added to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. He had his number retired as well.

Some say he was the most successful quarterback in Chicago Bears’ history. Those people just might be right. Luckman passed away on July 4th, 1998.