Bears vs. Cardinals

The NFL’s Oldest Rivalry

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About the Book

In their early years, the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cardinals— the two oldest teams in the National Football League —travelled the country with only rare mention in the newspapers. Both teams later saw their official records destroyed by fire. Most of what is now known about those initial seasons is based on often inaccurate statements made many years later.
Reconstructing their missing history, this book draws on newly available resources to document the battles and brawls on and off the field, the cunning backroom deals, the financial woes and the 40-year rivalry that endured while both teams were in Chicago. Figures like Al Capone, Red Grange, Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski make appearances in the lore of two old adversaries whose uneasy alliance helped ensure the survival of the fledgling NFL.

About the Author(s)

Joe Ziemba first became interested in the history of pro football after discovering that his father was a draft choice of the Chicago (now Arizona) Cardinals in the 1940s. Because of his knowledge of the early days of the professional game, he has been a resource for articles or reports in Sports Illustrated, New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Daily Southtown, NBC Sunday Night Football, and many others. He hosts the podcast “When Football Was Football” on the Sports History Network which focuses on the history of the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cardinals, and is a frequent guest on numerous other pro football podcasts. In 2022, he was the recipient of the Ralph Hay Award presented by the Professional Football Researchers Association for lifetime achievement in pro football research and historiography. He lives in Frankfort, Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

Joe Ziemba

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 348
Bibliographic Info: 33 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8851-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4733-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

Introduction 4

One—The Cardinals’ Slippery History 9

Two—Famous Chicago Cardinals 22

Three—Order of the Broken Jaw 29

Four—Yankees, Bobcats, and Owls! 40

Five—Pro Football: The Beginning 53

Six—NFL’s Oldest Rivalry 68

Seven—Lawyers, Gum, and Money 84

Eight—That Al Capone Crowd! 104

Nine—The Grange Effect 113

Ten—The NFL’s First Scandal 136

Eleven—Betrayals and Empty Bank Accounts! 155

Twelve—Programs and Sir Duke 179

Thirteen—Bidwill Saves the Bears! 201

Fourteen—Bronko, Spies, and Foolish Magnates 225

Fifteen—Mergers, Titles, and Missing Halfbacks 245

Sixteen—Windy City Warriors 271

Seventeen—The Last Hurrah 284

Chapter Notes 307

Bibliography 327

Index 331