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What Does the “GSH” Stand for on the Chicago Bears Jersey?

The “GSH” on the left sleeve of the Bears’ jersey stands for George Stanley Halas. Halas was the founder of the Bears franchise and was instrumental in the founding of the National Football League. [1]

Halas passed away in 1983, and the Bears have implemented his initials into their jersey designs ever since to honor his memory. [2]

I’m David, and I’m a lifelong football fan that has wasted too many Sundays watching the Minnesota Vikings let me down. But it means I’ve also watched plenty of Bears games and for many years, looked past the “GSH” initials that had been worked into their jerseys. 

In this article, we’ll summarize the life of George Halas both on and off the gridiron where he served as founder, owner, player, and coach at various times. Along with bringing six championships to Chicago in his 40 years as coach, Halas also served in the military on multiple occasions and even had a brief (albeit uninspiring) baseball career. 

Key Takeaways

  • The GSH on the Bears’ jerseys remembers the team’s founder George Stanley Halas.
  • Halas was a key member of the NFL’s founding along with being the Bears’ coach for 40 seasons.
  • Halas died in 1983, and the Bears have chosen to honor his memory with his initials ever since.

Life Before Football

Born in 1895, Halas graduated from the University of Illinois in 1918. [3]

“Papa Bear” George Halas – Illinois Athletics

After a stint in the Navy, Halas also briefly played professional baseball for the New York Yankees in 1919. His career was short-lived however, appearing in just 22 games as a right fielder and recording just two hits in 22 at-bats. [4]

Founding the NFL and the Bears

Halas didn’t let his disappointing baseball career slow him down. Just a year later, he played an instrumental role in the founding of the NFL and represented the Chicago Bears (then known as the Decatur Staleys) at the NFL’s founding meeting in Canton, Ohio. [5]

In 1921, Halas moved the team to Chicago and renamed them the Chicago Bears in homage to the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Halas was not just the team’s founder but also a key player along with being the head coach. One of the league’s best defensive ends, Halas set a league record with a 98-yard fumble recovery while the Bears won the 1921 title. [6]


Coaching and Military Service

Halas’ playing career concluded in 1930 and he stepped away from coaching to resume his military service. But Halas returned to the sideline in 1933, leading the Bears to their second championship. [7]

Halas continued to revolutionize the game with variations of the T-formation, incorporating pre-snap motion and other principles that we take for granted in the modern game.

His Bears perfected the T-formation in 1940 with a 73-0 rout of the Washington Redskins in the championship game. [8]

Halas continued to oscillate between a coaching career and time in the military. He again stepped away from coaching from 1942-1945 and from 1956-1957. [9]

In total, Halas served 40 years as the Bears’ head coach and finally retired for good in 1967 at 72 years old. [10]

Of Halas’ 40 teams, only six finished with a losing record while compiling six titles, three additional division titles, and 15-second place finishes. [11]

The Bears Honor Halas

George Halas was 88 when he passed away on Halloween in 1983. The grandfather of not only the Bears but the NFL, the Bears moved to honor Halas passing with the GSH initials on the left sleeve of their jerseys the following season. [12]

While the Bears jersey has evolved since 1983, the GSH initials have persisted from one jersey design to the next as an homage to the team’s founder.


Many teams have affixed temporary tributes to their jerseys to honor important members of the franchise when they pass. My favorite was when the Cowboys stitched Tom Landry’s iconic hat onto their jersey, a fitting homage to Landry’s iconic silhouette. 

But Halas remains the only person to have their memory permanently affixed to a team’s jersey. Considering his contribution not only to the Bears but to the NFL as a whole, I think he’s a more than worthy choice for this rare honor. 



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