Bears vs. Cardinals

The NFL’s Oldest Rivalry


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SKU: 9781476688510 Categories: , Tags: ,

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

Book Reviews & Awards

“Mr. Ziemba’s passion for this rivalry can be viewed in the massive amount of real football history he has presented in his writings…tremendous…the author does an excellent job in his research and discussion…entertaining and a pleasant read for all. I highly recommend this book…if you are either a Bears or Cardinals collector/fan it is a must for your collection.”—Gridiron Greats Magazine