Packers, Bears rivalry dates to 1921

posted Nov. 6, 2017 7:46 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Tom Emery, Carlinville, Ill. (Macoupin County)

The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears renewed the NFL’s oldest and longest rivalry when they met for the 193rd time at the end of September. Incredibly, it was the rubber match.

The series, which began in 1921, was a dead-level tie prior to the Sept. 28 game at 93-93-6 in regular-season play. The Packers now lead by one game, after their 35-14 victory.

The teams meet again on Nov. 12.

 A mere 37 points separate the teams over the life of the rivalry, as Green Bay holds a slight 3,335-3,298 edge in scoring.

Recent history favors the Packers. The Packers swept both meetings last season and have won 35 of the last 47 matchups.

The teams first met in Chicago on Nov. 27, 1921, the Packers’ first season in the NFL and the hosts’ second year in the Windy City after moving from Decatur. Still known as the “Staleys,” Chicago won 20-0.

Chicago was also the opponent in the dedication of the new City Stadium in Green Bay on Sept. 29, 1957, when the Packers scored in the fourth to pull out a 21-17 victory. The facility was renamed Lambeau Field in 1965.

During Vince Lombardi’s nine sparkling years in Green Bay, the Packers rolled to a 13-5 mark over the Bears, one of many big runs in the series from either team. Green Bay also ripped off 18 wins in 20 meetings with the Bears between 1994-2003.

The Packers, though, have struggled against the Bears during down times in the franchise’s history. Green Bay never finished above .500 from 1948-58 and won only four of 22 meetings with Chicago during that period. The Bears were also 12-2 against Green Bay from 1985-91.

The fierce rivalry reached new heights in the 1980s, particularly in a 61-7 Chicago rout on Dec. 7, 1980. On Oct. 21, 1985, Bears coach Mike Ditka infamously used mammoth William “Refrigerator” Perry as a running back on a scoring play in a 23-7 Chicago win. The next year, former Packers lineman Forrest Gregg took over as head coach, and the rivalry remained bitter because of his personal feud with Ditka.

Oddly, Bears legend George Halas, who coached the team for 40 years in four stints between 1920-67, formed a close relationship with Green Bay at times. During the depths of the Great Depression, Halas borrowed $1,500 from the Packers to meet his Bears payroll. Halas also supported the proposal to build the new City Stadium in Green Bay in the 1950s.

The teams have only met twice in postseason play, beginning with a 33-14 Bears win in a divisional playoff game in 1941. Green Bay won 21-14 in the NFC title game in Chicago on Jan. 23, 2011, on their way to their fourth Super Bowl title and league-high 13th NFL championship. Green Bay has a 12-5-2 advantage in preseason play over Chicago, with the last meeting in 1984.

Tom Emery is a freelance writer and historical researcher from Carlinville, Ill. He can be reached at 217-710-8392 or ilcivilwar@yahoo.com.






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