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Sports Then and Now

Sid Luckman: Chicago Bears Legend

Posted on September 28, 2019 by Dean Hybl
Sid Luckman

After years of struggling to find a consistent quarterback, the Chicago Bears now hope third-year player Mitchell Trubisky will be their quarterback for years to come. As the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month we are recognizing the best quarterback in Chicago Bears history.

Chosen out of Columbia–where he played tailback–with the second pick in the 1939 NFL Draft, Sid Luckman spent 12 seasons as the quarterback for the Bears and led them to five NFL Championship Game appearances and four titles.

Though his statistics seem pedestrian compared to those of today’s quarterbacks, in the NFL of the 1940s, Luckman and Sammy Baugh of the Washington Redskins were the leading quarterbacks of their era.

Luckman was the first great T-formation quarterback in the NFL and helped re-shape the role of the quarterback in the NFL.

In 1940, the Bears dominated the Washington Redskins 73-0 in the NFL Championship Game and the era of the T-formation was underway

In 1942, he led the Bears to a perfect 11-0 regular season, but they lost the NFL Championship Game to Washington 14-6.

The following season, Luckman was named the NFL MVP as he passed for 2,194 yards and a then-NFL record 28 touchdowns. In a mid-season game against the New York Giants Luckman set new NFL standards by becoming the first player in league history to pass for 400 yards in a game (443). He also set a league record that he still shares with seven touchdown passes.

In the 1943 NFL Championship Game he threw for five touchdowns as the Bears defeated Washington 41-21.

Luckman led the NFL in touchdown passes and passing yardage three times before retiring in 1950.

It illustrates just how tough it has been for the Bears at the quarterback position that it took more than 60 years after his retirement before Jay Cutler broke his team records with 14,686 passing yards and 137 touchdowns.

He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. He passed away in 1998 at the age of 81.

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