Pro Football: Bears should build statue garden outside Soldier Field

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

While watching the 49ers defeat the Packers at Lambeau Field last Sunday, Sept. 9, I noticed the network that covered the game kept showing the statues of Earl L. (Curly) Lambeau and Vince Lombardi that are on display outside the stadium. The two former Packers head coaches are forever immortalized in their larger-than-life bronze replicas.

This immediately got me wondering why the Chicago Bears organization has not honored any of their former players or coaches in such a manner. I realize the Bears play in a stadium (Soldier Field) that is operated by the Chicago Park District and serves as a memorial to war veterans.

Would it be disrespectful to veterans and their families to have statues of former Bears greats on display at the stadium? I don’t think so. There could easily be an area specifically set aside for the statues without harming the image of venerable Soldier Field.

I think the Bears should follow the lead of their Major League Baseball counterparts across town. The Chicago Cubs have erected statues of their long-time announcer Harry Caray and three of their hall of famers — Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams — outside of Wrigley Field.

The statues serve multiple purposes. They not only honor the contributions of the individuals they represent, they also preserve their memory for eternity. I also think they are amazing pieces of art that fans are able to enjoy going to and from the games.

I’d like to suggest that the Bears and/or the powers that be at Soldier Field seriously consider my idea for a statue garden outside of the stadium. The Chicago Bears have more players in the National Football Hall of Fame than any other team. That may be their biggest problem, trying to decide whom to honor with a statue first. I’d cast my vote (in bronze) for team founder and long-time Coach George “Papa Bear” Halas. Then, they could honor another player or coach each year. Obviously, Walter “Sweetness” Payton, Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka would deserve a spot alongside Halas.

I think this is an idea that deserves some consideration and discussion. I’m just not sure who would be the best person to present it to. I think I’ll start by sending a copy of this column to the Bears owner Virginia Halas McCaskey. I’ll let you know what kind of response I get.

From the Sept. 12-18, 2012, issue

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