Ex-Bears Chairman Michael McCaskey Dies at Age 76

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 16, 2020

Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, left, talks with Mike McCaskey, former chairman of the Chicago Bears before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
Jim Prisching/Associated Press

Former Chicago Bears chairman Michael McCaskey, the grandson of George Halas, has died from cancer at age 76.

He was the son of team owner Virginia McCaskey, Halas' daughter.

Michael McCaskey became team president in 1983 following the death of Halas—a position he held until 1999 when he took over as the team's chairman of the board after Virginia ousted him from running football operations.

"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."

Under McCaskey, the team won Super Bowl XX in 1985 and drafted the likes of Wilber Marshall, Jim Harbaugh, Donnell Woolford, Walt Harris and Mark Carrier in the first round. His time as president was marred by clashes with legendary coach Mike Ditka, who had been hired under Halas.

McCaskey would fire Ditka in 1992, replacing him with Dave Wannstedt.

From 1992 to McCaskey's removal in 1999, the Bears made the playoffs just once, never finishing higher than third in the NFC North.

"My heart is heavy as I think about Michael McCaskey and can't believe he is no longer with us," Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips said. "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. I will be forever grateful for the many opportunities for growth that he provided me, as well as for his trust and support."

McCaskey graduated from Yale in 1965, where he played on the school's football team. Outside of sports, he taught business at both UCLA and Harvard.

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