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Decatur Staleys exhibit 2 8.17.18

A football helmet worn by Decatur Staley team member Walter “Red” May is pictured at the Staley Museum in Decatur.

The Bears are Decatur-bound.

On Tuesday, the team unveiled plans for “Return to Decatur," a fitting name for an honor of our community's role in creating one of the great franchises in sports.

Chairman George H. McCaskey, general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy are scheduled to appear at the Civic Center, which will host various activities inside and out, on July 21. Events also are planned at Staley Museum over the weekend.

We think A.E. Staley would approve.

It was Staley who built his starch company into an international force and turned Decatur into an economic engine along the way. His fingerprints are still seen here — in Lake Decatur, in our infrastructure, in ways big and small.

The Bears may be the most visible of his contributions. They also remind us how big things can take off with the right people pulling in harness. The story is remarkable.

In 1919, Staley's Fellowship Club created a company football team and named it the Decatur Staleys. George Halas, a legend in his own right, was hired a year later, and they joined the American Professional Football Association, the precursor to the National Football League.

The early years saw popularity. Then came a suggestion to move north, to a bigger venue. By 1921, they were the Chicago Staleys. In 1922, the Bears name was adopted.

The Staleys' tenure in Decatur was brief. The name of those early years has been overshadowed.

But the roots lead here.

Ditka. Singletary. Butkus. Urlacher. Payton.

Monsters of the Midway.

Our grit and hard work are baked into the DNA of this team, now celebrating 100 years.

Decatur deserves this honor.

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