81-year-old fan was at 1941 Bears-Packers game

January 18, 2011 8:47:27 PM PST
The last time the Bears and Packers faced each other in a playoff game it was a showdown at Wrigley Field.

That was back in 1941. ABC7's Sarah Schulte caught up with a fan and friend of the Halas family who was in the stands at that game.

The players played both offense and defense. The football was shaped more like a basketball. Fans sported fedoras and furs, not cheese heads and Bears hats, and there was more coffee sold than beer.

Times were much different in 1941, but the rivalry was the same.

"There were a lot of people from Green Bay as there always were," said Charles Brizzolara, "The atmosphere was intense. The fans were well behaved, but strong in their favoritism in the game."

Brizzolara should know. The 81-year-old Chicago lawyer was 12 years old when he attended the 1941 Bears-Packers playoff game at Wrigley Field.

"The stadium was full," said Brizzolara. "The Packers were an excellent team, but the Bears in my mind was the greatest football team I had ever seen, and I have watched football for a long time."

Brizzolara grew up with the Bears. His father partially owned the team with close friend George Halas.

"George Halas is my sister's godfather," Brizzolara said. "George and my father were best man at each other's wedding."

Brizzolara says the '41 game was played a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the Wrigley Field stands were still full of fans, because Brizzolora says the magnitude of the war didn't hit home until the following week when the Bears went on to win the NFL title game against the Giants.

From a different era, Brizzolara will be wearing his Bears championship watch fob, suit and fedora as he plans to be at Soldier Field on Sunday for the Bears-Packers rematch 70 years later.

"It's exhilarating," said Brizzolara. "It is just delightful."