Michael McCaskey, former Bears chairman, dies at age 76

Michael McCaskey, former chairman of the Chicago Bears, has died at 76 after a lengthy battle with cancer, the team announced Saturday.

McCaskey, the son of Bears principal owner Virginia Halas McCaskey, was the eldest grandchild of George Halas and a key cog in the franchise's front office across decades.

McCaskey joined the family business in 1983, when he succeeded his grandfather as president and CEO and held that position until 1999 when he became the team's chairman. Under McCaskey's leadership, the Bears had eight playoff seasons, claimed six NFC Central division titles and were crowned Super Bowl XX Champions. Following the 1985 Super Bowl championship, his peers voted him NFL Executive of the Year. Michael also served as chairman of the board of the Bears from 1999-2011.

"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 McCaskey family said in a statement. "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. Although Mike's passing was not brought on by the novel coronavirus, our family, like so many people, is not able to gather and grieve together at this time."

In the spring of 1997, under his guidance, the Bears moved from the original Halas Hall on the campus of Lake Forest College to a new state-of-the-art facility, where the team still resides. The move provided the team its own private campus that included an indoor practice facility in addition to space that eventually became outdoor practice fields.

"My heart is heavy as I think about Michael 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."
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