Bears to unveil Payton, Halas statues before opener

The Chicago Bears will unveil statues of Hall of Famers Walter Payton and George Halas at Soldier Field on Sept. 3, two days before kicking off their centennial season.

The 12-foot, 3,000-pound bronze statues honoring the legendary running back and franchise founder were announced by the team Wednesday.

Payton, who passed away at age 45 in 1999, spent his entire 13-year NFL career with Chicago and retired after the 1987 season as the league’s all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

“I know Walter would be humbled to have this honor bestowed upon him, just as Jarrett, Brittney and our entire family are,” said his widow, Connie Payton. “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 team as the Decatur Staleys in 1920 and helped to create what ultimately became the NFL. He moved the club to Chicago in 1921 and coached the Bears to six titles in four different decades. “Papa Bear” retired as the winningest coach in NFL history with 318 victories and was a charter member of the Hall of Fame in 1963.

“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.

The Bears open the NFL’s 100th season on Thursday, Sept. 5, against the Green Bay Packers.

–Field Level Media

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