George Halas, co-founder of the National Football League, eight-time NFL Champion and owner and coach of the Chicago Bears, relentlessly pursued Sid Luckman to play football for him in the late 1930s.
Luckman’s achievements at quarterback are numerous; he completed twelve seasons with the Chicago Bears, earned four NFL Championships, was voted to five-time All Pro, became the NFL MVP 1943, threw for 14,686 yards career passing and became a HOF inductee in 1965.
Luckman’s abilities are perhaps best assessed by Bob Zuppke, the most well-known coach Illinois has ever seen, who said of Luckman, “He was the smartest football player I ever saw, and that goes for college and pro.”
Halas had seen and followed Luckman’s play for Columbia and set his sights squarely on him. Luckman, however, was quite insistent during much of the back and forth with Halas that he had no interest in playing professional football. This pursuit of Luckman took place in person, in writing, by telegram and through intermediaries such as Lou Little, Luckman’s coach at Columbia.
The pictured telegram from Luckman to Halas was part of this great story.
Addressed to George S. Halas, President Chicago bears Football Team, 37 South Wabash Ave CHGO, and dated Jun 14, 1939. It reads:
“Sorry but will require a little more time before final decision. Other plans not related to football still make it impracticable to say yes to you terms at this time. Many Thanks, Sid Luckman.”
At this time, Luckman was still contemplating working in a family business and had reservations about his Ivy League background preparing him for what he knew to be a rough pro game.
As Luckman related the story, Halas (what would have been soon after receipt of this telegram) visited Sid and wife Estelle at their apartment in New York for dinner. After the meal Halas presented a contract to Luckman that he then signed, as he considered the terms “fair and equitable”. Halas made a toast after the signing, stating to Luckman that “You and Jesus Christ are the only two people I would ever pay that much money to.”