Late in the summer of 1933, it seemed the Chicago Bears and the University of Notre Dame were inseparable.
- The Bears warm-up game before the start of their regular season, was versus an all-star team made up of former Notre Dame players.
- It was reported that Bears owner George Halas was interested in hiring Notre Dame head coach Hunk Anderson. He was disappointed that his former Bears teammate wasn’t available for the job. Halas was quoted as saying “Anderson knows more football than any one in the game, professional or college”¹. The two coaches would face off in the Bears vs. Notre Dame All-Stars exhibition.
Well the Bears must have sucked all the luck out of the Golden Dome in 1933. While the Bears successfully defended their NFL title, Notre Dame went 3-5-1. Their first losing season, since their program’s inaugural year in 1887.
The Bears opened their camp on September 1st. A couple of days before that, George Halas announced he would coach the team; his second stint doing so. For two weeks Halas whipped his team into shape. The Chicago Tribune reported that after the two-a-day practices on September 8th, a handful of Bears lost at least ten pounds in the “intense heat”².
The Bears weren’t the only team practicing under the hot Indiana sun. A group of former Notre Dame players, the Notre Dame All-Stars, were preparing for an exhibition game with those same Bears. Leading the All-Stars were Laurie Vejar at QB, Paul Host at end, and Tommy Yarr, a 1931 All-American at center. Like the Notre Dame collegiate team, the All-Stars were coached by Hunk Anderson.
On September 16th, the Bears and the Notre Dame All-Stars faced off in Chicago at Soldier Field. Helped by the weather, the Bears stifled the All-Stars’ speedy attack and won the game 14-0. The first half was marred by rain, and neither team scored any points. In the second half the sun came out, and the Bears overpowered the All-Stars on a muddy field.
In their second drive of the third quarter, the Bears scored the game’s first touchdown on a 5-yard end around by Bill Hewitt. In the fourth quarter the Bears cemented the game with a 1-yard touchdown by John Doehring, setup in part by a 40-yard run by Bronko Nagurski. The Bears most well-known player, Red Grange, didn’t start the game, but in a substitute role had an interception that prevented the All-Stars from scoring late in the first half, and he also had a 30-yard run. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicates. The Bears had 19 first downs to the All-Stars 3. A crowd of 8,800 watched the game, despite the poor weather.
The Bears continued winning in the regular season, starting the year 6-0. They defeated the New York Giants 23-21 in the NFL championship, and won their second league title in a row.
Meanwhile, the losing and shutouts continued for Hunk Anderson with his 1933 Notre Dame varsity squad. As mentioned before, Notre Dame had their first losing season since their inaugural year in 1887, with a 3-5-1 record. They were shutout in six of their nine games; the most by far in a single season for the Fighting Irish. And for the only time ever, they were winless at Notre Dame Stadium (0-3-1). Coach Anderson resigned at the end of the season.
The Bears training camp in 1933, was the only NFL training camp ever held at Notre Dame. To this day Notre Dame is the only school to have ever won an AP/Coaches’ Poll national championship, and to have hosted a NFL training camp.
- Although the Bears left town for training camp, the Chicago area was still the host of two training camps in 1933. The Chicago Cardinals trained at Mills Stadium located in the city of Chicago, and the Boston Redskins trained in nearby Evanston, IL, at Northwestern University.
- In 1944, the Bears returned their training camp to the state of Indiana. They trained at Saint Joseph’s University in Rensselaer. The Bears trained there for 31 seasons. The location is portrayed in the famous movie Brian’s Song.
- On a few occasions, it was speculated that the Bears would temporarily move to Notre Dame Stadium (1971, 1979, 1980, 1986, and 2002).
- The Bears have been a participant in all the NFL games played at Notre Dame Stadium. In 1971, they defeated the Cleveland Browns 20-19 [Game Program on eBay]. In 1972, they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 24-10 [Photo]. In 1986, they defeated the Buffalo Bills 31-17. [Photo].
- In 1940, George Halas hired Hunk Anderson to coach the Bears line. Starting in the middle of the 1942 season to 1945, Anderson was the Bears co-head coach with Luke Johnsos. The pair led the Bears to a NFL title in 1943. Anderson was also a guard for the Bears from 1922-1925, and he is a member of the NFL’s 1920s All-Decade Team.
Non-Linked Newspaper Sources
¹ Ward, Arch. (1933, August 16). Talking It Over. Chicago Tribune, pp. 25. Retrieved July 12th, 2012 from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
Undefined. (1933, August 31). Halas Will Coach Bears, He Announces. Chicago Tribune, pp. 22. Retrieved July 13th, 2012 from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
² Smith, Wilfrid. (1933, September 9). Bears Cut Two Off Roster As Team Swelters. Chicago Tribune, pp. 19. Retrieved July 12th, 2012 from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
Smith, Wilfrid. (1933, September 5). All-Stars Open Practice Today At Notre Dame. Chicago Tribune, pp. 21. Retrieved July 13th, 2012 from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
Smith, Wilfrid. (1933, September 16). Bears to Battle Former Notre Dame Stars Today. Chicago Tribune, pp. 21. Retrieved July 13th, 2012 from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
Smith, Wilfrid. (1933, September 17). Bears Use Weight to Whip Notre Dame All Stars, 14 to 0. Chicago Tribune, pp. A1. Retrieved July 13th, 2012 from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
Undefined. (1933, December 8). Hunk Anderson Quits as Notre Dame Head Coach. Chicago Tribune, pp. 29. Retrieved July 13th, 2012 from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
Strickler, George (1940, May 19). Hunk Anderson Signed As Line Coach By Bears. Chicago Tribune, pp. B1. Retrieved July 13th, 2012 from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.