Chicago Honey Bears

The Chicago Honey Bears were a cheerleading squad for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The group performed at Bears games at Soldier Field, and also at one away game in Tampa Bay Florida with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their Cheerleaders the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Swashbucklers until Super Bowl XX, which was their final appearance. The Chicago Honey Bears donated numerous hours of service to charities, as well as made guest appearances on T.V, including the Richard Simmons Show, the WGN Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon and performed and signed autographs at various other events, including at the Great Lakes Naval Station for the Navy Servicemen. They did various ads and posters, including a Kodak film ad, a Chicago Buckingham Fountain Post Card, a Stroh's Beer poster, and a poster of The Chicago Honey Bears official head shots featuring hair and make up by Vidal Sassoon, who was the official hair stylist of the NFL Chicago Honey Bears. Vidal Sassoon , selected Chicago Honey Bear line Captain/ and assistant choreographer Sharon Shackelford to be a hair model and he cut, colored and styled her hair live on the Phil Donahue Show. These examples are just a few of the numerous charities, T.V shows and events that the Honey Bear squad participated in. Aside from the Chicago Honey Bears being dancers and cheerleaders, at the Honey Bear auditions, Cathy Core and a panel of judges, including talent agents, narrowed their search by making the contestants display an additional talent , such as singing, playing instruments, acrobatic abilities or other dance forms and talents, before making their final selections of who would be on the squad each season. They also did modeling , including an incident when a member of the squad appeared topless in a Playboy magazine.[1] After this incident, the Cheerleaders signed contracts that forbade posing nude and also forbade fraternizing with the Chicago Bears Football players except at approved events. After Super Bowl XX the squad was disbanded, and currently, the Bears are one of the six NFL teams that do not have cheerleaders, along with the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Chicago Honey Bears
ExtinctionJanuary 26, 1986
All Time Roster 1977-1986
Cathy Core
AffiliationsChicago Bears



In 1976, after a disastrous 1975 season for the Bears, owner/founder George Halas decided to bring "dancing girls" to the Bears, after the success of other cheerleading corps like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Washington Redskins Cheerleaders and other squads prompted Halas to get the Bears a squad as well, and requested general manager Jim Finks to find a director. During the search, Finks was given a recommendation for former cheerleader and choreographer Cathy Core, who had recently moved to Chicago from New Jersey. However, when Finks asked Core about choreographing the squad, Core thought it was a prank and hung up. After some verification, Core accepted. During the meeting with Core, Halas stated that "As long as I’m alive, we will have dancing girls on the sidelines."[2] Halas was true to his word, as the Honey Bears were around for the rest of his life until his death in 1983. After 28 girls were selected, they became an instant hit. However, the job did not pay much, as they were only paid $15 a game ($5 for gas, $5 for parking and $5 for uniform cleaning). (By 1985, the wage was extended to $20) Despite this, over 5,000 ladies auditioned in 1985. Unlike current squads, the Honey Bears performed more actual cheerleading stunts than dance moves that other squads perform.

Final season

Even though the Honey Bears were a hit, after Halas' death, his daughter Virginia Halas McCaskey attempted to sever all ties with the group. However, she was unable to legally fire the group, as the group had a contract extending into 1985. The attempts to disband the group came in the early 1985 season in papers. Core was quoted saying

"At the time, they told me it was basically a change in philosophy. The Bears wanted to be about blood-and-guts football and football only. I think there are certain people in the (McCaskey) family who have dominated the negative part of the issue, and as long as those people are still around and still vocal, I don’t think the Honey Bears will come back."[3]

The Chicago Honey Bears had their final performance in Super Bowl XX in the Superdome in New Orleans,[4] performing at halftime to Prince's song Baby I'm a Star. After the game, the Honey Bears were terminated, due to Virginia Halas McCaskey's belief that they were sexist and degrading to women (she called them "sex objects"), as well as them costing up to $50,000 a season.[3] General manager Jerry Vainisi stated that the team could possibly replace the squad with a high school band, despite having not done so.[5] The other factor in the squad's termination, Michael McCaskey, stated that the squad is not an acceptable part of the gameday experience.[6]

Curse of the Honey Bears

Many Bears fans claim that their team lingers under a "Honey Bear Curse", as the team still has yet to win a Super Bowl after the group's termination (as of 2017).[7] The Bears came close in Super Bowl XLI, but lost to the Indianapolis Colts. Despite the Bears not having the Honey Bears, the Bears unveiled a mascot in Staley Da Bear in 2003.[8][9]

As of the 2017 Chicago Bears season, the Bears have gone 5–9 (.357) in the postseason, compared to the team's 4–3 record during the squad's tenure (.521), as well as 235-254 (.480) in the regular season after the squad's termination, a .30 winning percentage differental than during the squad's existence (82–67).[10] The team had also gone 35–76–1 (.317) in the eight years before the squad's existence.[11]

Attempted revivals

Despite numerous attempts to bring back the Honey Bears and fan polls supporting the squad 3–1, Virginia McCaskey has let it be known the Bears will not have cheerleaders as long as she owns the team, in addition her children Michael and George McCaskey and her grandchildren have reportedly plan to keep the anti-cheerleading stance when they inherit the team. A small group of Bears fans created an unofficial Honey Bears who appeared at the team's training camp in 2010 as part of the unofficial web page to bring back the squad, which also has petitions that fans can sign to bring back the group.[12][13]

Another homage to the Honey Bears is with "Honey Bear", a superfan for the Bears done by Lena Duda, who has been active in the Bears stands and tailgate scene since 2007. Honey Bear's "uniform" consists of white hot pants, white go-go boots, pom poms, and white vest; all being recreations of the squad's trademark uniforms.[14]

A year after the squad's disbanding, a producer named Greg Schwartz trademarked the name, purchased a federal registration, and eventually turned the once-cheerleading squad into a song and dance group.[15] The group has performed for various Fortune 500 companies and has done modeling.[16]


The squad's uniforms, like the Bears, experienced very little changes. From the squad's inception in 1976 to 1980, the uniform was a white bodysuit with navy blue sleeves. From 1980 to 1984, the squad once again wore a white bodysuit, but with orange sleeves instead, with the navy blue being moved to the trim. In the group's final year, the uniform was completely revamped, with an orange sequin vest.[3] In cold weather games, the Honey Bears wore an orange tracksuit.[17] Former Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Firebirds cheerleader Carey modeled for prototype Honey Bears uniforms for the unofficial squad website, taking her ideas from current NFL cheerleading squads.[18]

Notable members

  • Cathy Core – Director of the NFL Chicago Bears Cheerleaders, Chicago Honey Bear squad and retired Luvabulls Director (Chicago Bulls cheerleaders) Inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.[19]
  • Cheryl BurtonWLS-TV news anchor[20]


  1. ^ Woulfe, Molly (1988-10-30). "Exposure Proved Unbearable". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  2. ^ Taylor, Roy. "The Honey Bears and Chicago Bears Mascots". Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  3. ^ a b c "Chicago Honey Bears History". Chicago Honey Retrieved 2012-05-27.
  4. ^ Taylor, Roy. "1985 Chicago Bears". Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  5. ^ Lorenz, Rich (1985-11-16). "Bears Say Cheerio To Cheerleaders". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  6. ^ "Come To Think of It: The Curse of the Honey Bears". Bleacher Report. 2012-01-01. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  7. ^ "Our Cheerleaders Are Hotter, Because the Bears Don't Have Any!". NBC Universal, Inc. September 15, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2012. Here is where team lore kicks in, apparently some fans say the team is under a "Honey Bear Curse" because the Bears haven't won a Super Bowl since 1985.
  8. ^ Sasha. "Chicago Bears". Ultimate Cheerleaders. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  9. ^ "Staley". Chicago Bears. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  10. ^ "Chicago Bears Cheerleaders - Honey Bears Cheerleaders - Bears Cheerleader". Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  11. ^ Dave, Midwest correspondent. "Twenty-Five Years Ago, the Chicago Honey Bears Rode Off Into the Super Bowl Sunset: Part IV: Preserving the Past with an Eye to the Future,". Ultimate Cheerleaders. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  12. ^ "Honey Bears Petition" (PDF). Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  13. ^ "Chicago Bears Bringing Back Cheerleaders? Online Petition Circulates". 2011-11-02. Archived from the original on 2012-04-29. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  14. ^ ""Draft Town flashback: Remembering the Honey Bears"". Chicago Tribune. 2016-04-28.
  15. ^ "Chicago Bears History". Chicago Honey Bear Dancers. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  16. ^ Mayer, Larry (1994-01-16). "Honey Bear Dancers Are Given A Makeover By Greg Schwartz - Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  17. ^ America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions, "#2. 1985 Chicago Bears." Premiered on CBS, Feb. 3, 2007
  18. ^ Sasha (2009-08-21). "Campaigning for the Honey Bears". Ultimate Cheerleaders. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  19. ^ "BULLS: Celebrating 25 years with the Chicago Luvabulls". 2011-05-02. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
  20. ^ "Roster 1983 - 1984". Chicago Honey Retrieved 2012-06-06.

Further reading

External links

1976 Chicago Bears season

The 1976 Chicago Bears season was their 57th regular season completed in the National Football League. The club posted a 7–7 record, in their second season under Jack Pardee. The .500 record and second-place finish were the team's best since 1968. This was also the first season for the Chicago Honey Bears, the team's official cheerleading squad.

1985 Chicago Bears season

The 1985 Chicago Bears season was their 66th regular season and 16th post-season completed in the National Football League (NFL). The Bears entered 1985 looking to improve on their 10–6 record from 1984 and advance further than the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the 15–1 San Francisco 49ers. Not only did the Bears improve on that record, they put together one of the greatest seasons in NFL history.

The Bears won fifteen games, as the 49ers had the year before, and won their first twelve before losing to the Miami Dolphins to deny a perfect season. The Bears' defense was ranked first in the league and only allowed 198 total points (an average of 12.4 points per game). The Bears won the NFC Central Division by seven games over the second place Green Bay Packers and earned the NFC's top seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs at Soldier Field. In their two playoff games against the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams, the Bears outscored their opponents 45–0 and became the first team to record back-to-back playoff shutouts. Then, in Super Bowl XX in New Orleans against the New England Patriots, the Bears set several more records. First, their 46 points broke the record that had been set by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1984 with 38 and tied by the 49ers the following year. Their 36-point margin of victory topped the 29-point margin of victory that the Raiders had put up in Super Bowl XVIII and stood as a record until the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIV, also in New Orleans, by 45 points over the Denver Broncos. It was the Bears' first NFL World Championship title since 1963.

The 1985 Chicago Bears are one of the few teams to consistently challenge the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins for the unofficial title of the greatest NFL team of all time. In 2007, the 1985 Bears were ranked as the second greatest Super Bowl championship team on the NFL Network's documentary series America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions, ranking behind the 1972 Dolphins. Other sources rate the 1985 Chicago Bears as the greatest NFL team ever.

Cheryl Burton

Cheryl Burton (born December 25, 1962) is an American news anchor. Since 1992, Burton has been working for ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV) in Chicago, Illinois. Burton anchors the station's 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscast alongside Alan Krashesky and the 7pm newscast on WCIU-TV alongside Hosea Sanders.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) North division. The Bears have won nine NFL Championships, including one Super Bowl, and hold the NFL record for the most enshrinees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the most retired jersey numbers. The Bears have also recorded more victories than any other NFL franchise.The franchise was founded in Decatur, Illinois, on September 17, 1920, and moved to Chicago in 1921. It is one of only two remaining franchises from the NFL's founding in 1920, along with the Arizona Cardinals, which was originally also in Chicago. The team played home games at Wrigley Field on Chicago's North Side through the 1970 season; they now play at Soldier Field on the Near South Side, next to Lake Michigan. The Bears have a long-standing rivalry with the Green Bay Packers.The team headquarters, Halas Hall, is in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, Illinois. The Bears practice at adjoining facilities there during the season. Since 2002, the Bears have held their annual training camp, from late July to mid-August, at Ward Field on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

Jerry Vainisi

Jerry Vainisi was the general manager and executive vice president of the Chicago Bears and is current chairman/CEO, as well as the former owner, of Forest Park National Bank & Trust Co.

National Football League Cheerleading

National Football League Cheerleading, or simply NFL Cheerleading, is a professional cheerleading organization in the United States. 26 of the 32 NFL teams include a cheerleading squad in their franchise. Cheerleaders are a popular attraction that can give a team more coverage/airtime, popular local support, and increased media image. In 1954, the Baltimore Colts became the first NFL team to have cheerleaders. They were part of the Baltimore Colts Marching Band.

Most NFL cheerleading squads are a part-time job. Often, cheerleaders have completed or are attending a university, and continue on to other careers after cheering for one to four seasons. The members participate in practice, training camp, games, appearances, photo shoots, and charity events. Apart from their main duties of cheering during the football games, the cheerleaders have many other responsibilities. Nearly every team member is available for appearances at schools, events, conferences, etc., for a set fee.

An anticipated annual event is the release of each squad's calendar, featuring members for each month in swimsuits or uniforms.

As well as being a mainstay of American football culture, the cheerleaders are one of the biggest entertainment groups to regularly perform for the United States Armed Forces overseas with performances and tours being enlisted by the USO. Teams send their variety show, an elite group of their best members, to perform combination shows of dance, music, baton twirling, acrobatics, gymnastics, and more. In February 2007, the Buffalo Bills even sent a squad of eight along with their choreographer into the war zone of Iraq. In 1996, the San Francisco 49ers Cheerleaders and their director helicoptered into the war inflicted country of Bosnia with the USO and the U.S. Army. The U.S. troops in Korea have been entertained during the holiday season with the USO's Bob Hope Tour. Over the years, the tour has featured NFL cheerleaders from the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.

In 2018, the first male dancers were added to National Football League Cheerleading.

Retired numbers
Key personnel
Division championships (21)
Conference championships (4)
League championships (9)
Current league affiliations
Seasons (100)
American Football Conference
National Football Conference

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