Former Chicago Bears president and CEO Michael McCaskey, a grandson of George Halas, died after a lengthy battle with cancer, the team announced Saturday. He was 76.
McCaskey, the eldest of Bears owner Virginia McCaskey’s 11 children, succeeded Halas in running the team after the NFL co-founder died in 1983. McCaskey served as president and CEO until 1999, then served as chairman from 1999 until 2011.
“Mike was already successful in every sense of the word when he took over for George S. Halas after the passing of ‘Papa Bear’ in 1983,” the McCaskey family said in a statement. “We are grateful to Mike for overseeing arguably the greatest team in NFL history, and for his many years of service to the Bears and to us.
“The oldest of eleven siblings has many duties thrust upon him, not all of them pleasant, yet Mike handled them all with grace and patience.”
McCaskey oversaw the 1985 Bears, who went 15-1 and won the franchise’s only Super Bowl with a team that is widely considered one of the best ever. McCaskey was voted NFL Executive of the Year afterward by his peers.
He also helped the team move into its new facility in 1997 and co-founded the team’s charitable foundation, Bears Care, in 2005.
“My heart is heavy as I think about Michael McCaskey and can’t believe he is no longer with us,” current president and CEO Ted Phillips said in a statement. “His fierce love of the Bears was unmatched as was his intellectual capacity and thirst for knowledge on a myriad of subjects. Michael displayed a professorial presence that could be challenging, but was also inspiring. ...
“Michael was a good man, gone much too soon. He presided over the only Super Bowl Championship Chicago Bears team in 1985, and I know he is still smiling about that magical season. God bless Michael and his family.”
“Michael McCaskey proudly carried forth the legacy of his grandfather and NFL pioneer George Halas as team president and chairman and played an instrumental role in the success and popularity of the Bears,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell added in a statement. “The Bears’ memorable 1985 season and their Super Bowl XX victory helped further propel the NFL onto a global stage. ...
“Michael was a driving force in growing the NFL’s international footprint with the first American Bowl game in London featuring the Bears and the Dallas Cowboys in 1986. He was also dedicated to serving his community.”
Michael is survived by two children, John and Kathryn, and a grandson, Jackson, along with his mother.
Virginia McCaskey, the eldest of Halas’ two children, is the NFL’s oldest owner at 97. She inherited ownership of the team when Halas died in 1983.
—Field Level Media