DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Founded in 1919 in Decatur as the Decatur Staleys, the Chicago Bears will play their 100th season of football this year. To celebrate that milestone, they kicked off the season where it all started… in Decatur.

Hundreds of fans showed up to support the team. Players and coaches report to training camp in Bourbonnais later this week as the favorite to repeat as NFC North camps but before they strap on the pads, head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace kicked off the franchise’s centennial season right here in Central Illinois.

A lot of reasons to be excited for Bears fans following a 12-4 season and a wild card round playoff loss. Nagy was named NFC coach of the year, Pace executive of the year in the NFL. Both guys, along with quarterback Mitch Trubisky and linebacker Khalil Mack, form a strong foundation for the upcoming season. Expectations are certainly high and they should be heading into the second year for Nagy.

“Just like anything that’s new, there’s that honeymoon stage and everyone is excited because it’s new. Everything that we taught last year as coaches for the first time it was the first time they were hearing it. So it’s new. Now it becomes the second time they hear it,” head coach Matt Nagy said.

“We have a lot of young players that are all still getting better. A lot of these guys are talented players that had success last year but still improving, still incrementally getting better,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “I think we’ll feel that this training camp and I think we’ll feel the continuity and the cohesion of our team growing.”

This was the last event in a weekend full of activities. Several former Bears were on hand for a youth camp yesterday, with the team giving $3,000 to each Decatur high school.

Football is back and that brings a smile to a lot of people. The first regular season game for the Bears is September 5th against the Packers.