Somewhere up in Football heaven, Vince Lombardi has a big smile on his face, looking at George Halas holding back a scowl. This weekend, a Packers win, and a Bears loss will make the Green Bay Packers the winningest franchise in NFL History.
Currently, the Packers and Bears are tied with 785 regular season wins each since 1920. The Bears have pretty much held this record since their inception. So, potentially losing this record to their long-time biggest rival, is definitely a bit of a stinger.
Bears jumped ahead from the beginning
The Bears jumped out to a big start in the first decade. 1920-1930 under Papa Bear George Halas, they had 93 wins to Curly Lambeau’s Packers’ 71. A nice little kicker there is the Packers had two NFL Championships in that decade, to the Bears/Staley’s one. The next decade brought the Bears 84 more wins to the Packers 82. The Packers with three more NFL titles, and the Bears with three as well.
But then in the 1940s, the Bears began to pull away. Their 24-game lead turned to 47. The 1950s saw the Packers drop back into 3rd place as the New York Giants passed them, and the Bears then had a 69-game lead on them. Obviously having Papa Bear as their coach all that time, paid off. The Packers on the other hand became a Football wasteland after Lambeau’s departure, and never picked back up until Vince Lombardi’s arrival.
Lombardi’s impact, Halas’ departure
Finally in the 1960s, the Packers closed the gap from 69 to 43. Lombardi’s Packers dominated the 1960s with 102 wins to the Bears 73. Vince Lombardi basically rescued the Packers franchise from the depths of purgatory and turned them in to an absolute powerhouse. In Chicago however, despite an NFL Championship in 1963, Papa Bear’s career was coming to an end as the Bears experienced a bit of a downturn, and Halas eventually stepped away from coaching in 1967. Coincidentally though, this was also when Vince Lombardi stepped away from coaching the Packers.
After the departure of their legendary coaches, the Packers and the Bears experienced very ho-hum success in the 70’s as the Bears had 67 total wins, to the Packers 62.
Ditka arrives, Packers stay dismal
The 1980s brought back hope and Super Bowl shuffles to Chicago. Former Tight End Mike Ditka was hired as the head coach of the Bears, and the Bears took off. The Packers on the other hand, did not have as much success with their Legendary players as coaches. They watched Forrest Gregg and Bart Starr coach to 51 wins, while in that time the Bears had 74, and a Super Bowl win. By 1990, the Bears had pulled away again now to a 79-game lead, leading the total 550 to 471.
The Packers were known as the NFL’s Siberia. I wasn’t very coherent football-wise during these days seeing as these were the first years of my life. However, I will always never take the spoils of my fandom for granted, for unknown to my little mind, the Packers were about to take off, and stay there.
And so came the 1990s. About as soon as Mike Ditka departed, Mike Holmgren arrived in Green Bay, and away they went. Of course, there was some help in the form of a Defensive Free Agent named Reggie White, and this crazy gun slinger named Brett Favre.
Almost like the 1960s, the Packers had taken off again. However, the Bears got worse. Like a lot worse. The Packers saw a total of 102 wins to the Bears 78. This helped eat away the Bear’s lead to 49 games. The 1990s are known to me as the Packers of my childhood. The funny thing about that is, I always viewed the Bears as an easy win. They rarely posed a legitimate threat to the Packers. And the Packers kept cruising to victories.
The 2000s to today
There isn’t much to say in the last 22 years. The Packers have consistently been good, while the Bears have been good at times, but often very sub-par. The Packers have had 226 regular season wins to the Bears 173. Of course, this is emphasized by some great teams on the part of the Packers, and some teams that just couldn’t get over the hump with the Bears.
As we’ve now tied at 785 wins each, a fan of my 35 years of age can’t help but feel very spoiled. The Packers have only truly had 4 losing seasons in my lifetime. That’s pretty unbelievable.
The Packers will be hitting the field on foreign land for the first time in their regular season history on Sunday in London. If they defeat the Giants, and the Bears are defeated by the Minnesota Vikings, they could take the lead for most all time Franchise wins. It’s time the Packers not only held the record for most championships, but most wins as well.
Once we take it, let’s never give it back.
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.