Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears were NFL’s first fierce rivalry

(Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images) /

The Arizona Cardinals were once in heated battles with the Chicago Bears in the 1920s.

When the first season of the NFL kicked off in 1920, the Cardinals had already been around 22 years. They had gotten to know the Decatur Staleys (who would become the Chicago Bears) very well.

So much so that the Arizona Cardinals had a direct role in preventing the Chicago Bears from two more NFL Championships, simultaneously creating the NFL’s first rivalry within the first five years of its existence.

The Chicago Bears were led by the legendary George S. Halas, whose initials still don the left sleeve of the Bears’ uniforms to this day. They were fantastic in the 1920s, compiling four seasons of at least nine wins or more (their worst was a 6-4 season in 1924).

The Cardinals played the Bears better than anyone else did, with a record of 4-4-2 (Pro Football Reference confirms this upon further review).

The Arizona Cardinals’ time in Chicago needs much more attention

How can the only era where the Cardinals won Championships not get talked about enough? Of course, it’s starting to get over 100 years ago by now- and that’s understandable. What shouldn’t be lost are the stories of how different football was back then.

Take, for example, the Cardinals’ first-ever stadium, Normal Park. It was what is now the “West Englewood” Neighborhood, just at the southwestern edge of the Green Line elevated train route.

It, of course, is no longer there, and if you turn on the “Satellite” feature of Google maps, you’ll see that half of the field is a Police Department, and on the other side are a bunch of houses, noticeable by the funky-shaped cul de sac in the middle of the block.

There’s also the fact that Charles Bidwill, who bought the Cardinals for $50K (roughly just over $1M in today’s money), was a part of the Bears’ organization before he decided to purchase the team in 1932.

The list could go on and on, but the Cardinals deserve some serious props for playing Halas’ Bears so closely and preventing them from winning more titles.

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