|1920 Chicago Bears season|
|Head Coach||George Halas|
|Home Field||Staley Field|
|Previous season||Next season|
The 1920 Decatur Staleys season was the first professional regular season of the franchise that would go on to be known as the Chicago Bears, competing in the newly formed American Professional Football Association. The club posted a 10–1–2 record under first year head coach/player George Halas earning them a second-place finish in the team standings. The stars of the Staleys were Ed "Dutch" Sternaman, Jimmy Conzelman, and George Halas. Sternaman had a remarkable season with 11 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TDs, 4 field goals, and 3 PATs, totaling 87 points scored out of the Staleys' total of 164. Jimmy Conzelman ran for two scores and threw two more. Halas led the team in receiving scores with 2. In the last league game of the season, the Staleys needed a win versus Akron to have a chance at the title. Akron, predictably, played for a tie, achieved that, and won the first APFA title.
The Decatur Staleys finished 6–1 in their 1919 season as an independent team. Their 1919 owner, George Chamberlain, asked George Halas to help own the team, and Halas accepted. After the 1919 season, representatives of four Ohio League teams—the Canton Bulldogs, the Cleveland Tigers, the Dayton Triangles, and the Akron Pros—called a meeting on August 20, 1920, to discuss the formation of a new league. At the meeting, they tentatively agreed on a salary cap and pledged not to sign college players or players already under contract with other teams. They also agreed on a name for the circuit: the American Professional Football Conference. They then invited other professional teams to a second meeting on September 17.
At that meeting, held at Bulldogs owner Ralph Hay's Hupmobile showroom in Canton, representatives of the Rock Island Independents, the Muncie Flyers, the Decatur Staleys, the Racine Cardinals, the Massillon Tigers, the Chicago Cardinals, and the Hammond Pros agreed to join the league. Representatives of the Buffalo All-Americans and Rochester Jeffersons could not attend the meeting, but sent letters to Hay asking to be included in the league. Team representatives changed the league's name slightly to the American Professional Football Association and elected officers, installing Jim Thorpe as president. Under the new league structure, teams created their schedules dynamically as the season progressed, so there were no minimum or maximum number of games needed to be played. Also, representatives of each team voted to determine the winner of the APFA trophy.
The table below was compiled using the information from NFL History, which used various contemporary newspapers. If a team has a dagger (), then that team in a non-APFA team. For the results column, the winning team's score is posted first followed by the result for the Staleys. For the attendance, if a cell is greyed out and has "N/A", then that means there is an unknown figure for that game. The green-colored cells indicates a win; the yellow-colored cells indicates a tie; and the red-colored cells indicate a loss.
|1||No game scheduled|
|2||October 3, 1920||vs. Moline Universal Tractors||20–0 W||Staley Field||1,500||1–0|
|3||October 10, 1920||vs. Kewanee Walworths||25–7 W||Staley Field||1,500||2–0|
|4||October 17, 1920||at Rock Island Independents||7–0 W||Douglas Park||7,000||3–0|
|5||October 24, 1920||at Chicago Tigers||10–0 W||Cubs Park||5,000||4–0|
|6||October 31, 1920||at Rockford AC||29–0 W||Kishwaukee Park||N/A||5–0|
|7||November 7, 1920||at Rock Island Independents||0–0 T||Douglas Park||N/A||5–0–1|
|8||November 11, 1920||at Champaign Legion||20–0 W||Champaign, Illinois||N/A||6–0–1|
|November 14, 1920||at Minneapolis Marines||3–0 W||Nicollet Park||N/A||7–0–1|
|9||November 21, 1920||vs. Hammond Pros||28–7 W||Staley Field||3,000||8–0–1|
|10||November 25, 1920||at Chicago Tigers||6–0 W||Cub Park||8,000||9–0–1|
|November 28, 1920||at Chicago Cardinals||7–6 L||Normal Park||5,000||9–1–1|
|11||December 5, 1920||at Chicago Cardinals||10–0 W||Cub Park||11,000||10–1–1|
|12||December 12, 1920||vs. Akron Pros||0–0 T||Cub Park||12,000||10–1–2|
|13||No game scheduled|
Week 4: at Rock Island Independents
October 17, 1920, at Douglas Park
After two games against non-APFA teams, the Staleys played against the APFA Rock Island Independents.
Week 7: at Rock Island Independents
November 7, 1920, at Douglas Park
On a five-game winning streak, the Staleys played against the Independents again. The game ended in a 0–0 tie. Several injuries occurred throughout the game for the Independents. Sid Nichols, Fred Chicken, and Oke Smith injured their knees on different plays. Harry Gunderson was hit late by George Trafton and the former had to get thirteen stitches on his face, and his hand was broken.
Week 8: at Minneapolis Marines
November 14, 1920, at Nicollet Park
To conclude their six-game road game streak, the Staleys played against the Minneapolis Marines. The Marines were a non-APFA team but joined the league in 1921. The only score of the game was a 25-yard field goal from Sternaman.
Week 12: vs. Akron Pros
December 12, 1920, at Cubs Park
The Staleys ended their season in week 12 against he Akron Pros. Prior to the game, Halas moved their home field to the much larger Cubs Park in Chicago and hired Paddy Driscoll from the Cardinals to play on his team in order to help defeat the Pros, which was against league rules at the time. Twelve thousand fans, which was the largest recorded crowd of the season, showed up to watch the game. Of the crowd, about 2,000 were from Pollard's hometown. The Pros almost scored twice, but failed once because of ineligible receiver penalties. On the other side, Fritz Pollard stopped a Staleys' touchdown against Sternment in the third quarter. On the same drive, the Staleys missed a 30-yard field goal. Chamberlin attempted to injure Pollard twice in an attempt to remove him from the game. The final score ended in a 0–0 tie; however, the Chicago Defender reported that the refereeing was biased towards Decatur.
|1920 APFA standings|
|Rock Island Independents||6||2||2||.750||201||49||W1|
Since there were no playoff system in the APFA until 1932, a meeting was held to determine the champions. Each team that showed up had a vote to determine the champions. The Staleys and the All-Americans each stated they should be the champions because they had more wins and were not beaten by the Akron Pros. However, since the Akron Pros had a 1.000 winning percentage, the Pros were awarded the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup on April 30, 1921. Seven players from the Staleys were on the 1920 All-Pro team. Guy Chamberlain, Hugh Blacklock, and George Trafton were on the first team; George Halas was on the second team; and Burt Ingwerson, Ross Petty, and Ed Sternaman were on the third team.
Five players from the 1920 Decatur Staleys roster went on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Guy Chamberlin was in the class of 1965, Jimmy Conzelman was in the class of 1964, Paddy Driscoll was in the class of 1965, George Halas was in the class of 1963, and George Trafton was in the class of 1964. The Pro Football Hall of Fame's selection committee compiled a list of the National Football League 1920s All-Decade Team. Each of the aforementioned Hall-of-Famers are on this team.
- "1920 Decatur Staleys". Independentfootball.site90.com. http://www.independentfootball.site90.com/Teams/1920DecStaleys.htm. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
- "1919 Decatur Staleys". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. http://www.profootballarchives.com/1919dec.html. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- "1920s Chicago Bears". Bears History. http://www.bearshistory.com/seasons/1920schicagobears.aspx. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- PFRA Research (1980), pp. 3–4
- Siwoff, Zimmber & Marini (2010), pp. 352–353
- PFRA Research (1980), p. 4
- "Thorpe Made President" (PDF). The New York Times. September 19, 1920. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1920/09/19/113313269.pdf.
- "Organize Pro Gridders; Choose Thorpe, Prexy". The Milwaukee Journal: p. 24. September 19, 1920. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=f8MWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OiEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3568,5105560&dq=gridders&hl=en.
- Peterson (1997), p. 74
- Davis (2005), p. 59
- Price, Mark (April 25, 2011). "Searching for Lost Trophy". Akron Beacon-Journal. http://www.ohio.com/news/searching-for-lost-trophy-1.204246. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
- NFL History (2003), pp. 1–7
- "Lack of Practice and Poor Physical Condition Account for First Upset of Season". Rock Island Argus. October 18, 1920.
- "Staleys Win World's Dirt Title". Rock Island Argus. November 8, 1920.
- Quirk (1998), p. 2
- NFL History (2003), p. 4
- Willis (2010), p. 131
- Davis (2005), p. 61
- Carroll (1982), p. 3
- "Decatur and Akron Pros battle to Tie". The Milwaukee Sentinel: p. 6. December 13, 1920. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=72QVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=qgoEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4624%2C57266.
- Young, Frank (December 18, 1920). "Fritz Pollard Shows Old Time Form as Akron and Staleys Pros Play Tie". Chicago Defender: p. 6.
- NFL History (2003), p. 7
- "History: The First Playoff Game". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on June 3, 2011. https://web.archive.org/web/20110603232114/http://www.profootballhof.com/history/decades/1930s/first_playoff_game.aspx.
- PFRA Research (n.d.), p. 1
- Price, Mark (April 25, 2011). "Searching for the Lost Trophy". Akron Beacon Journal. http://www.ohio.com/news/searching-for-lost-trophy-1.204246. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
- Hogrogian (1984), pp. 1–2
- "Guy Chamberlin". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=44. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- "Jimmy Conzelman". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=48. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- "John (Paddy) Driscoll". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=60. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- "George Halas". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=85. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- "George Trafton". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=215. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- "NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1920s". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/story/2010/1/9/nfls-all-decade-team-of-the-1920s/. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- Carroll, Bob (1982). "Akron Pros 1920". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 4 (12). Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. https://www.webcitation.org/65r52lUNU?url=http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/04-12-119.pdf.
- Davis, Jeff (2005). Papa Bear, The Life and Legacy of George Halas. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0071460543.
- Hogrogian, John (1984). "1920 All-Pros". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 6 (1). Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20140808122855/http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/06-01-173.pdf.
- PFRA Research. "Once More, With Feeling: 1921". Professional Football Researchers Association. Archived from the original on November 26, 2010. https://web.archive.org/web/20101126223713/http://profootballresearchers.org/Articles/Once_More_With_Feeling.pdf. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- PFRA Research (1980). "Happy Birthday NFL?". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 2 (8). Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. https://www.webcitation.org/65r56f5pq?url=http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/02-08-038.pdf.
- Quirk, Jim (1998). "The Minneapolis Marines: Minnesota's Forgotten NFL Team". The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 20 (1). Archived from the original on December 18, 2010. https://web.archive.org/web/20101218204303/http://profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/20-01-732.pdf.
- Siwoff, Seymour; Zimmber, Jon; Marini, Matt (2010). The Official NFL Record and Fact Book 2010. National Football League. ISBN 9781603208338.
- Willis, Chris (2010). The Man Who Built the National Football League: Joe F. Carr. The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810876699.
Template:1920 Decatur Staleys
|Akron||Buffalo||Canton||Chicago Cardinals||Chicago Tigers||Cleveland|