Bears to Unveil Walter Payton, George Halas Statues at Soldier Field on Sept. 3

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2019

Chicago Bears' Walter Payton, right, receives a painting of his likeness from Bears owners Ed and Virginia McCaskey  on Dec. 20, 1987 inn Chicago during Payton's last NFL season Payton, the NFL's greatest rusher whose aggressive style masked a playful temperament that earned him the nickname ``Sweetness,'' died Monday Nov. 1, 1999 at age 45.  (AP Photo/Mark  Elias)
MARK ELIAS/Associated Press

The Chicago Bears revealed Wednesday that they would be putting up statues of Hall of Famers Walter Payton and George S. Halas by Soldier Field.

The statues, which will be outside of Gate 0, will be unveiled Sept. 3, two days before the team opens the season at home against the Green Bay Packers.

Bears chairman George H. McCaskey spoke about the decision:

"It is only appropriate that the father of professional football and the greatest player in the history of the game are being honored in this way, and perhaps no better time for the unveiling than as we kick off our centennial season. Thank you to the Chicago Park District, Soldier Field and SMG for their support throughout the process, and to sculptor Chad Fisher for his artistry in bringing his subjects to life."

Payton was one of the greatest running backs in NFL history and was the league's all-time leading rusher (16,726 yards) when he retired after the 1987 campaign. Emmitt Smith (18,355) has since surpassed that mark.

Halas, meanwhile, founded the Bears—then the Decatur Staleys—in 1920 and helped create the American Professional Football Association, which would later become the NFL. As a player, he was named to the All-Decade team in the '20s. He later served as the team's coach in four different tenures, leading the franchise to titles in 1921, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1946 and 1963. 

Given his importance to the league, the NFC championship trophy is named in his honor.