By Dan Pompei, Tribune reporter
3:09 PM CDT, August 31, 2013
None of the Bears players received a financial windfall for winning the NFL championship in 1963.
Each player did get a $5,809 bonus for winning it all, and that was significant, considering the average salary on the team was $16,000.
Johnny Morris used the bonus money to put a down payment on his first house, in Winnetka. He couldn't afford to furnish it for a long time though.
The players all had offseason jobs back in those days, and most of them earned more from their "second jobs" than they did from football.
Mike Ditka sold insurance for awhile. He hated it.
Doug Atkins worked for a trucking firm. Joe Fortunato was in the oil business. Bill George was a manufacturer's rep. Billy Martin sold real estate.
They thought winning the championship would make them all rich.
Legend has it that Bears players were under the impression George Halas was set to split the deed to an oil well among them if they won a championship.
Of course they never saw so much as a drop of oil.
Kay Morris, the widow of Larry Morris, said before the 1963 season Halas promised her husband a salary bump if the Bears won the championship. After Larry Morris was named most valuable player of the championship game, he knocked on Halas' door.
"He told Larry, 'Well, you know kid, we should have won it by more,'" Kay Morris said.
There would be no extra money for Morris.
Other players credit Halas with setting them up for the post-football careers, and say he looked after them later in life.
Many cashed in on their celebrity.
So for many of these men, being a world champion Bear still ended up being an avenue to a rich life.
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