Grange makes jump to NFL's Bears

Updated: October 14, 2005, 5:11 PM ET
By Larry Schwartz | Special to ESPN.com

Nov. 22, 1925

The day after ending his career at Illinois, three-time All-American halfback Red Grange goes against the advice of both his father and his coach and turns professional.

C.C. Pyle, a Champaign theater owner and promoter, has negotiated an elaborate deal with Chicago Bears owner and coach George Halas. The contract will earn Grange more than $100,000. He will play his first game in four days, on Thanksgiving, against the Chicago Cardinals.

It will be the start of a hectic schedule that is part NFL, but mostly barnstorming. The Bears will play 19 games in 17 cities in 67 days; Grange will play in 17 games, missing two because of injury.

Grange's jump to play for pay brings credibility to the pro game and shocks the collegiate world. "I'd have been more popular with the colleges if I had joined Capone's mob in Chicago rather than the Bears," Grange will say.