George Halas’ Stool
The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project running through mid-July detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.
This worn-down, kicked-over stool went everywhere NFL pioneer George Halas went in football. He was perched on it for the famous 1940 NFL Championship game, when the team he coached and owned, the Bears, thrashed the Redskins 73-0. It was the widest margin of victory in an NFL title game then—or since.
The stool is not even Halas’ most famous parking spot, however. That distinction belongs to the running board of one four cars in Canton Bulldogs manager Ralph Hay’s automobile showroom on Sept. 17, 1920. Hay, with Halas’ support, gathered the wards of independent pro football teams from Chicago to New York at his office in Canton. “Chairs were few,” Halas later wrote. “We all agreed on the need for a league. In two hours we created the American Professional Football Association. In ’23 they renamed it the NFL.”
Halas would continue to push the game forward, stumping for public support of an ailing Packers franchise in ’56 and leading the charge to share television revenues equally among the franchises, arguably the single most important milestone in the success of the league. Halas also had the novel idea of taking denigrating remarks from a newspaper made by Washington owner George Preston Marshall about his Bears, blowing them up, and pasting them about the locker room prior to the 1940 championship. His funeral mass in 1983 drew more than 1,200 mourners.
— Robert Klemko
Photograph courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame