George Halas, the gentleman who owns and for 30-odd years coached the Chicago Bears, is now an even-tempered man. He was known for a blazing temper during his coaching days; once, in a fit of pique over a pass completed against his team, he tripped the receiver as he crossed the sideline in front of the Bear bench. But since then Papa Bear Halas has mellowed. His Bears have, in the last two years, begun to resemble the Monsters of the Midway of the early '40s. His life is—or has been—tranquil.
Last week, Papa Bear appeared ready to revert to his early form. The Bears lost their first two games. And, to add to Mr. Halas' sorrows, Harvey Knox undertook to call signals for one of the Bear quarterbacks—a tall, handsome and very capable youngster named Ronnie Knox who has been a peripatetic football player.
The Bears drafted Ronnie this year. Someone said when Halas drafted him: "There are 11 cowards here and George Halas." Ronnie's stepfather, Harvey, had made cowards of the other pro owners. He had moved Ronnie through three high schools, two colleges and one Canadian pro club, seeking a coach who appreciated his stepson's talents enough to suit Harvey. When George Halas signed Ronnie this year, Harvey gave a press party in Los Angeles to announce the event—on Halas' expense account.
During the time Bear Coach Paddy Driscoll was trying to fit Knox into the Bear offensive picture, Harvey remained quiet. Ronnie, who can play quarterback or halfback, played neither very much, and Halas explained that he needed to familiarize himself with the Bear system. Ronnie, who says nearly nothing, said he was studying 16 hours a day.
Harvey was quietly stewing 16 hours a day and finally blew his top. He accused Halas of paying Ronnie only $75 for four exhibition games when he had promised $500, and Halas said the $75 was meal money, the $500 due at season's end. But George kept his temper until last week, when his team lost its opener to lightly regarded Green Bay. Then, on the heels of Harvey's blast, he suspended Ronnie from the club for 1) missing practice twice in 12 days, 2) missing three quarterback skull sessions and 3) being late to practice several times. The Bears lost again Saturday night, to the Baltimore Colts. It now appears a good bet that Ronnie's hopes for a big league career are over, although Harvey started sending up peace signals when he learned how firm Halas can be.
RONNIE KNOX may never carry ball being handed him by Bears' Paddy Driscoll.