RB/QB / HB
Class of 1963
In the early 1920s, George Halas was desperately seeking a special gate attraction to help draw attention not only to his Chicago Bears team but also to the National Football League as a whole. University of Illinois running back Harold "Red" Grange, who ran with ghostlike speed and elusiveness, seemed to be the answer.
Although college stars rarely turned to pro football in those days, Halas and his partner Dutch Sternaman pondered just how much Grange could do for their team. Grange, who worked as an ice deliveryman during his college summers agreed to play for the Bears.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1925, just 10 days after Grange's last college game, 36,600 filled Cubs Park (now know as Wrigley Field) to see Red's pro debut against the Chicago Cardinals. Ten days later more than 70,000 packed New York's Polo Grounds to see Red and the Bears take on the New York Giants.
Sensing that a rare opportunity was at hand, Grange's agent, C. C. "Cash and Carry" Pyle, Halas and Sternaman, lined up an exhausting “barnstorming tour” of the country winning thousands of new fans for pro football. When Pyle and the Bears ownership couldn’t agree on terms for the 1926 season, Pyle formed a rival American Football League with a team in New York called the Yankees that featured Grange.
While the Yankees had moderate success, the rest of the league failed. Pyle was allowed to move his team into the NFL in 1927 but Grange suffered a crippling knee injury during a game against the Bears. "l didn't play at all in 1928,"Grange remembers. "l was just an ordinary ball-carrier after that. I did develop into a pretty good defensive back, however."
Halas invited Grange back to the Bears in 1929 and he remained with them through the 1934 season. In the 1933 NFL Championship Game, Grange was a defensive hero with a difficult touchdown-saving tackle in the final seconds.
|1927||New York Yankees||
|Additional Career Statistics: Passing: 71-24-346, 10 TD, 10 Ints; Rushing: 170-569, 21 TD; Receiving: 16-288, 10 TD; Scoring: 32 TD, 0-1 XP; Interceptions: 1 TD|
Full Name: Harold Edward Grange
Birthdate: June 13, 1903
Birthplace: Forksville, Pennsylvania
High School: Wheaton (Ill.)
Died: January 28, 1991
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: September 7, 1963
Presenter: Jimmy Conzelman
Other Members of Class of 1963: Sammy Baugh, Bert Bell, Joe Carr, Earl "Dutch" Clark, George Halas, Mel Hein, Wilbur "Pete" Henry, Cal Hubbard, Don Hutson, Earl "Curly" Lambeau, Tim Mara, George Preston Marshall, John "Blood" McNally, Bronko Nagurski, Ernie Nevers, Jim Thorpe
Pro Career: 9 seasons, 96 games
Drafted: Grange played prior to the NFL Draft being implemented.
Uniform Number: 77
Harold “Red” Grange Enshrinement Speech 1963
Presenter: Jimmy Conzelman
Friends, Red Grange was the first professional football explosion. The galloping ghost of the Illini captured the nation’s attention like no player ever did and he brought this spotlight with him when he stepped directly from the Big Ten gridirons into the Bears lineup. His pro debut on Thanksgiving Day 1925, sold out Wrigley Field for the first time and went with him. The Galloping Ghost’s college reputation got a horse whipping in the headlines on the exhausting coast to coast grind, not to mention Red’s aching back. Careless historians fail to recall Red Grange came back to become one of the best of all the Bears. Always dangerous on offense, he distinguished himself on defense with two World Championships teams. For almost three decades he’s still a Bear but now on television. Thank you.
Harold “Red” Grange
Bob, Jimmy, thank you very, very much. Yes, my back did ache but the first two years with Mr. Halas was on percentage and that took a lot of aches out of it. It's difficult at a time like this to find words to express your thanks. I am certainly deeply honored. I'm flattered very, very much, and of course I'm pleased. I hope a little bit of my plaque will be owned by every teammate that I ever had the privilege of playing with. I think it's wonderful to be involved with all these gentlemen here at my rear, fellas that I have played with, fellas that I have played against. It's certainly a deserving honor. I feel that I am extremely flattered to be in their company. I’m sure as our shrine goes on and on and gets bigger I'll have the opportunity, Jim, someday that you and I can reverse positions that I will present you a plaque to the Hall of Fame and I hope it's very, very soon. Just let me say again thanks to the people of Canton, thanks for having me here and I'm going to be a worthy member and certainly do everything I can to make this the greatest shrine in the world. Thank you very much.