CHICAGO – Over the next few months, the Bears will be celebrating their proud history in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of their franchise.
But early next month, they’ll add something that will last much longer than the 2019 season outside of their home stadium.
The Bears announced on Wednesday that they will unveil statues of franchise icons Walter Payton and George Halas on Tuesday, Sept. 3, two days before the team’s season opener against the Packers on Sept. 5.
Chad Fisher will create the statues that will be placed outside Gate 0 at the stadium.
“It is only appropriate that the father of professional football and the greatest player in the history of the game are being honored in this way, and perhaps no better time for the unveiling than as we kick off our centennial season,” said Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey in a release from the team. “Thank you to the Chicago Park District, Soldier Field and SMG for their support throughout the process, and to sculptor Chad Fisher for his artistry in bringing his subjects to life.”
Payton, who was recently named by the Bears as their No. 1 player of all-time, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1993 after an incredible career in which he left the NFL’s All-Time leading rusher (surpassed by Emmitt Smith in 2002). He holds 27 Bears records, was elected to the Pro Bowl nine times and was the 1977 NFL MVP while also being an integral part of the team’s 1985 Super Bowl title before retiring in 1987.
“I know Walter would be humbled to have this honor bestowed upon him, just as Jarrett, Brittney and our entire family are,” said Connie Payton in a release from the team. “To say that I am enthusiastic about unveiling this statue to the city of Chicago is an understatement. What a proud moment for all of us and the city of Chicago. We’re not just Chicago Bears fans, we’re family.”
Halas founded the Bears in 1920 and served as their coach for 40 years, leading the team to eight championships along with 318 victories. His daughter, Virginia Halas McCaskey, is the current owner of the franchise.