Monsters of the Midway

The Monsters of the Midway is most widely known as the nickname for the National Football League's Chicago Bears—particularly the dominant teams of 1940 and 1941.[1] The name underwent something of a renewal when the 1985 edition of the Bears proved to be similarly dominant and has been used as a nickname for the Bears, in particular their intimidating defenses and linebackers, ever since. The name got another renaissance in 2006 when the Bears went back to the Super Bowl thanks to their dominant defense and again in the 2018 season, where the Chicago defense was as dominant as possible prior to their 16-15 Wild Card loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on January 6, 2019.

Origins of the name

The nickname Monsters of the Midway was originally applied to the University of Chicago "Maroons", a college football team under the leadership of Amos Alonzo Stagg. "Midway" is a reference to the Midway Plaisance, a long, green swath of boulevard space bordering the southern end of the campus between 59th and 60th Streets and running from Washington Park to Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side. The U of C ended its major college football program in 1939, around a time of several Bears NFL Championships. During this time, their home field was Wrigley Field, the legendary home of the Chicago Cubs, on the North Side of the city, roughly 12 miles (20 km) from the Midway. The "C" symbol on their helmets is borrowed from the U of C Maroons.[2] The moniker is also used by the university's Velo Club bicycle racing team, for their annual criterium in May on the Midway.

It is not, contrary to some mentions, a reference to Chicago's Midway Airport, which was known as "Chicago Municipal Airport" until 1949, at which time it was renamed to honor veterans of the Battle of Midway.

Mid-1980s revival

The popularity of "Monsters of the Midway" was renewed by the dominant Chicago Bears defense of 1985.[3] That year the Bears went 15–1 in the regular season. In the playoffs the Bears posted two shutouts against the New York Giants (21–0) and the Los Angeles Rams (24–0). This culminated in the Super Bowl, wherein they defeated the New England Patriots 46–10.

The 1985 Bears defense was ranked first in the NFL in points allowed and yards allowed. That year defensive end Richard Dent led the league in sacks and linebacker Mike Singletary won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Both players were two of five Bears from that team enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the others being running back Walter Payton, defensive end Dan Hampton, and coach Mike Ditka.


Although the Monsters of the Midway nickname is sometimes applied to the Bears team as a whole it is primarily applied to the defensive side of the ball. This is due to the Bears having a long tradition of tough and intimidating defenses that date back to the beginning of the franchise.[4] Both the initial association of the nickname to the Bears and its 1980s revival were due mainly to the Bears' strong defensive performances. Founder George Halas primarily played defensive end and the Bears have been credited with as defensive innovators with schemes such as the 46 Defense and the Tampa 2. Over the years ten of the Bears' defenses being ranked among the 100 stingiest defenses of all time by Cold Hard Football Facts, more than any other franchise.[5]

Middle linebackers

Within their acclaimed defenses, the Bears have been described as having a particularly strong legacy at middle linebacker, with players often being referred to as "Monsters in the Middle", a play on the Monsters of the Midway nickname.[6] This is mainly due to the play of Bill George, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, and Brian Urlacher, all of whom were members of the first-team NFL All-Decade teams for their respective tenures, and are ranked within the top fifteen Bears of all time by ESPN Chicago.[7] Furthermore, George, Butkus, Singletary, and Urlacher are Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees and Butkus and George have their numbers retired by the Bears.


TSR published a game entitled Monsters of the Midway [8] in a 1982 edition of their magazine Dragon. It was a football simulation with various fantasy characters taking the place of football players.

The game Mutant League Football referenced the name, calling one of its fictional teams the "Midway Monsters".


  1. ^ "Monsters of the Midway".
  2. ^ "Before It Was Normal: Celebrating the University of Chicago's 40th Anniversary Return of Football". ESPN.
  3. ^ Jim Murray (January 1, 1985). "Dr. Ditka Has Created Some New Monsters". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ "Chicago Bears - A Tradition of Defense". March 13, 2013.
  5. ^ Kerry Byrne (April 4, 2013). "Monsters of the Midway: We Need The Chicago Bears More Than Ever". Cold Hard Football Facts.
  6. ^ Melissa Isaacson. "Bears' legacy deep up the middle". ESPN Chicago.
  7. ^ "50 Greatest Bears". ESPN Chicago.
  8. ^
1963 NFL Championship Game

The 1963 National Football League Championship Game was the 31st annual championship game, played on December 29 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The game pitted the visiting New York Giants (11–3) of the Eastern Conference against the Chicago Bears (11–1–2) of the Western Conference.Originally, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle asked Bears owner/coach George Halas to move the game to Soldier Field for its higher seating capacity and lights, as the game could extend into multiple overtime periods. (Wrigley Field was not lighted until 25 years later, in 1988.) Soldier Field was the home field of the Chicago Cardinals in 1959, and became the home of the Bears in 1971.

When Halas refused, Rozelle moved the game's starting time up an hour to 12:05 p.m. CST for increased daylight, similar to 1960 at Franklin Field. The championship game was played in temperatures under 10 °F (−12 °C).The Giants were in their third consecutive championship game and fifth in the last six seasons. They lost to the Baltimore Colts in 1958 and 1959 and the Green Bay Packers in 1961 and 1962. The Bears were in their first championship game since a loss to the Giants in 1956 at Yankee Stadium, and had last won in 1946, over the Giants at the Polo Grounds.

This was the fifth and final NFL championship game at Wrigley Field, which hosted the first in 1933, as well as 1937, 1941, and 1943. The Bears won four, with the only loss in 1937.

Tickets were $12.50, $10, and $6. NBC paid the league $926,000 for the broadcast rights.

1985 Oklahoma Sooners football team

The 1985 Oklahoma Sooners football team represented the University of Oklahoma in the college football season of 1985–1986. This year was Barry Switzer's 13th season as head coach. The Sooners ended this season with 11 wins and a sole loss coming to the Miami Hurricanes in Norman, in a game in which the Sooners lost starting quarterback Troy Aikman for the season. The Sooners were forced to place their trust in lightning-quick true freshman quarterback Jamelle Holieway and a physical defense featuring three All-Americans, who led them to a Big 8 Conference title and a national championship. This was Oklahoma's sixth national championship and 34th conference championship in school history.

Bear Down, Chicago Bears

"Bear Down, Chicago Bears" is the fight song of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. It was written in 1941 by Al Hoffman under the pseudonym Jerry Downs, though Hoffman appeared to have little connection to Chicago. The song was written during the early stages of the "Monsters of the Midway" Era, as well as the year after the Bears had shocked the professional football world by defeating the Washington Redskins in the league championship game by the score of 73-0, which remains the largest win margin in any game in the history of the NFL.At home games, a version of the song recorded in 1993 by Bill Archer and the Big Bear Band is played every time the Bears score.

The lyrics are as follows:Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory;

Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly.

We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T-formation.

Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you're wearing the crown.

You're the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, bear down.

After the Bears' Super Bowl XX-winning 1985 season, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed the song.The song was featured in Madden NFL 11's soundtrack.

Bernie Masterson

Bernard Edward Masterson (August 10, 1911 – May 16, 1963) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln from 1946 to 1947, compiling a record of 5–13. Masterson played college football at Nebraska from 1931 to 1933. He played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Chicago Bears from 1934 to 1940.

Blood Bowl

Blood Bowl is a fantasy football game created by Jervis Johnson for the British games company Games Workshop as a parody of American Football. The game was first released in 1986 and has been re-released in new editions since. Blood Bowl is set in an alternate version of the Warhammer Fantasy setting, populated by traditional fantasy elements such as human warriors, goblins, dwarves, elves, orcs and trolls.

At Warhammer Fest 2016, Games Workshop showed various elements of an upcoming new edition of the game, which will feature the current CRP rules and feature a double sided board and all new plastic miniatures. The announced edition of the game (named Blood Bowl 2016 Edition) was released worldwide in time for the 2016 Christmas season.

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.

Dome Patrol

The Dome Patrol was the linebacker corps of the National Football League's New Orleans Saints during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Under head coach Jim Mora, it formed the second level of defensive coordinator Steve Sidwell's 3–4 defense, considered to be among the most formidable 3–4 defenses in NFL history.

As a unit, all four players were on the Saints roster for seven seasons, from 1986 to 1992, and the players combined for 18 Pro Bowls and ten first-team All-Pro selections while with the team. All four linebackers were invited to the Pro Bowl for 1992, the only time four linebackers from one team have made a Pro Bowl together.

Earl Leggett

Earl Franklin Leggett (March 5, 1933 – May 15, 2008) was an American football defensive lineman in the National Football League (NFL) for the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, and the New Orleans Saints. He played college football at Louisiana State University (LSU). He was also an assistant coach for various teams.Leggett's career in professional football began as a first-round draft pick of the Bears in 1957 and spanned 11 years (1957–1968). He is recorded as having played in 132 professional football games.

His career lasted from 1957 to 1965 with Chicago, where he played at both defensive tackle and defensive end positions. He was part of the famed "Monsters of the Midway" defense that led the Bears to the 1963 NFL championship. He was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 1966, where he played in 10 regular season games with the Rams' "Fearsome Foursome" defense.

Toward the end of his career, journeyman Leggett played 20 games in 1967 and 1968 for the expansion New Orleans Saints franchise. While statistics on sacks were not recorded back then, credits Leggett with 16 fumble recoveries, 1 safety and 1 interception.

Leggett did outstanding community service in Mississippi and the Gulf Coast region. He first played college football at Hinds Jr. College (today known as Hinds Community College) which was the only school that would give him a chance due to academic circumstances. He started playing for them at 16 (which was then legal) and was able to raise his academic standing to get into LSU. Leggett became an All-Southeastern Conference player at LSU.

Leggett had four children and 14 grandchildren.

George McAfee

George Anderson McAfee (March 13, 1918 – March 4, 2009) was a professional American football player. He played halfback and defensive back for the Chicago Bears from 1940 to 1941 and 1945 to 1950. As an undergraduate at Duke University, McAfee starred in baseball and track and field as well as college football. McAfee was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As of 2018, he still holds the NFL record for punt return average in a career.

George Musso

George Francis Musso (April 8, 1910 – September 5, 2000) was an American football lineman, playing both offensive guard and tackle as well as defensive middle guard. His twelve-year career in the National Football League (NFL) was spent entirely with the Chicago Bears.

History of the Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears American football franchise is a charter member of the National Football League (NFL) and have played in all of the league's 99 seasons. The Bears have captured nine NFL championships – eight NFL championships and one Super Bowl – second most all time behind the Green Bay Packers. The franchise has also recorded more victories than any other franchise with 739, retired the most uniform numbers with fourteen, and have the most members in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with twenty-seven.

The club has played in over a thousand games since becoming a charter member of the NFL in 1920 through the 2016 season.

Ken Kavanaugh

Kenneth William Kavanaugh (November 23, 1916 – January 25, 2007) was an American football player, coach, and scout. He played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Chicago Bears as an end from 1940 to 1950, except for three seasons during which he served in World War II. He led the league in receiving touchdowns twice, and is a member of the NFL 1940s All-Decade Team. He is the Bears' all-time leader in receiving touchdowns, with 50.

Kavanaugh played college football at Louisiana State University for the LSU Tigers, where he was named most valuable player of the Southeastern Conference and a consensus All-American in 1939 after leading the nation in receptions and receiving yards. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

List of North American football nicknames

This is a list of nicknames in the sports of American football and Canadian football.

Logos and uniforms of the Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears of the National Football League sport a wishbone 'C' logo, which the team has used since the 1960s.

Since the team's inception in 1920, the Bears' uniforms have received very little changes, with minor changes and various patches added. The classic look of the club's uniforms has given it the title of one of the best uniform sets in the league.

Midway Plaisance

The Midway Plaisance, known locally as the Midway, is a Chicago public park on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. It is one mile long by 220 yards wide and extends along 59th and 60th streets, joining Washington Park at its west end and Jackson Park at its east end. It divides the Hyde Park community area to the north from the Woodlawn community area to the south, 6 miles (10 km) south of the downtown "Loop", near Lake Michigan. Today, the Midway runs through the southern portion of the University of Chicago campus, with university and related buildings fronting it on both sides.

It early came to prominence when it hosted amusements at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, lending the name "Midway" to areas at county and state fairs with sideshows. Laid out with long vistas and avenues of trees at the start of the 20th century, the Midway in part followed the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the creators of New York City's famous Central Park, but without his design of creating a Venetian canal linking the lagoon systems of Jackson and Washington parks. Instead, the Midway is landscaped with a fosse or dry ditch where the canal would have been.

Later designers and artists added (or sought to add) their vision to the Midway. A pet project of the University of Chicago and almost a part of its campus, it has remained essentially a green area.

Mike North

Mike North (born c. 1952) is an American radio sports personality, formerly working for Clear Channel Communications as a cohost with Andy Furman on Fox Sports Daybreak Mon-Friday from 5am-8am CST on their Fox Sports Radio subsidiary, until this program was cancelled in September, 2016. North currently writes a column, The Rebel Inside, twice a week for the Daily Herald and does videos three days a week for their web site about current sports topics. He was the co-host of the Monsters in the Morning with Dan Jiggetts on Comcast SportsNet Chicago in 2009 and was a sports talk radio show host at WSCR "The Score 670" in Chicago from 1992 to 2008. He was also the color man for the Chicago Rush AFL team for two seasons alongside Tom Dore. He was the co-host of Monsters and Money in the Morning on WBBM-TV CBS 2 Chicago until its cancellation in 2010.

Mike Singletary

Michael Singletary (born October 9, 1958) is an American football coach and former professional football player. After playing college football for Baylor University, Singletary was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2nd round of the 1981 NFL Draft and was known as "The Heart of the Defense" for the Chicago Bears' Monsters of the Midway in the mid-1980s. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998, the same year he coached Kirk Cousins in youth flag football.

Singletary later pursued a career as a coach, first as a linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens, then as the linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers. In 2008, the 49ers promoted Singletary to the head coaching position after previous head coach Mike Nolan was fired during the season, and he remained in that position until he was fired after the 49ers were eliminated from playoff contention with one game remaining in the 2010 season.

Sid Luckman

Sidney Luckman (November 21, 1916 – July 5, 1998) was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) from 1939 through 1950. During his 12 seasons with the Bears he led them to four NFL championships (1940, 1941, 1943, and 1946).

Sportswriter Ira Berkow wrote that Luckman was "the first great T-formation quarterback", and he is considered the greatest long-range passer of his time. He was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1943. Luckman was also a 3× NFL All-Star (1940–42), 5× First-team All-Pro (1941–44, 1947), Second-Team All-Pro (1946), 3× NFL passing yards leader (1943, 1945, and 1946), 3× NFL passing touchdowns leader (1943, 1945, and 1946), 3× NFL passer rating leader (1941, 1943, and 1946), named to the NFL 1940s All-Decade Team, had his Chicago Bears No. 42 retired, and tied the NFL record of 7 touchdown passes in a game.

Luckman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965, and in 1988 he was declared a joint winner of the Walter Camp Distinguished American Award. Following his retirement from playing, Luckman continued his association with football by tutoring college coaches, focusing on the passing aspect of the game.

Ted Plumb

Thomas E. "Ted" Plumb (born August 20, 1939) is a former American football player and coach. His playing career ended after a neck injury in training camp as he looked like a promising young receiver for the Buffalo Bills out of Baylor University. Plumb served as the wide receivers coach with the "Monsters of the Midway" Chicago Bears, and he served as the director of pro scouting for the "Greatest Show on Turf" 2000 St. Louis Rams. Plumb retired after that 2000 season to his home in Alba, Texas.

Retired numbers
Key personnel
Division championships (21)
Conference championships (4)
League championships (9)
Current league affiliations
Seasons (100)
Bowls & rivalries
Culture & lore

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