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Chicago once was home to 2 NFL Teams: The Bears & Cardinals

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CHICAGO – When she made the proposal for the reworking of Soldier Field on Monday, it was done with a purpose to entice the Bears to remain within the City of Chicago.

That’s a necessity after the team signed a purchase order agreement for the Arlington Park property within the northwest suburbs and now are investigating the feasibility of constructing a recent stadium there.

But when presenting two scenarios to enhance the venue on the lakefront – each with increased capability and a dome in mind – Mayor Lori Lightfoot was asked if there may very well be one other tenant for this remodeled Soldier Field should Bears turn it down.

“I could see that as an option for another person, yes,” said Mayor Lightfoot in response.

The follow-up query was whether that may very well be one other National Football League franchise.

“Loads of cities have had multiple, two NFL teams,” responded Lightfoot.

While some may not know it, that was Chicago for a variety of years within the early days of the NFL, with a pair of teams calling town home.

From 1920 through 1959, the Cardinals played within the “Windy City” as they carved out their very own football history in Chicago at a variety of different venues while the Bears played on the town as well. That they had Hall of Famers and even got here home with a pair of championships before making the move to St. Louis in 1960 and eventually the greater Phoenix area where they currently play.

Joining what was then the American Skilled Football Association (later the NFL), the Cardinals began skilled play in 1920 at Normal Field at 61st and Racine. The truth is, the franchise was referred to as the “Racine Cardinals” due to that early of their time within the APFA/NFL, which was preceded by a variety of years in the realm as an amateur team dating back to the late 1800s.

Primarily the team played their games at Comiskey Park, doing so from 1922-1925, 1929, 1930, then from 1940 through 1958. In addition they played at Wrigley Field from 1931-1939 and at Soldier Field for 4 of their six games played in Chicago in 1959.

Normal Park, where the team began playing, was home to the team in 1920, 1921, then from 1926-28.

The team won the NFL championship in the course of the 1925 and 1947 seasons, winning that last one within the title game against the Eagles at Comiskey Park 28-21 on December twenty eighth of that 12 months. The team also appeared within the 1948 NFL Championship Game, but this time lost to Philadelphia on the road 7-0.

Plenty of Hall of Famers took the sphere for the Chicago Cardinals, including Paddy Driscoll, Ollie Mattson, Charley Trippi, Dick “Night Train” Lane, and Jim Thorpe. Curly Lambeau, who helped found the Green Bay Packers and had a legendary profession with that franchise, coached the Cardinals in the course of the 1950 and 1951 seasons.

During their final decade in Chicago, the performance of the team slipped, which led to poor attendance and the franchise’s desire to maneuver. In 1959, they played 4 games at Soldier Field and two at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis, where the Vikings were set to start play in 1961.

Their final home game was against the Bears at Soldier Field on November 29, 1959, a 31-7 defeat. They’d play two more road games, with their last contest because the Chicago Cardinals going down on December thirteenth at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, where they lost to the Steelers 35-20.

The Cardinals finished their time within the “Windy City” with losing records in nine of their last ten seasons, including a 2-10 mark in 1959.

Shortly after that, they’d move to St. Louis, ending Chicago’s last era with two NFL franchises.

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