Michael McCaskey

Mike McCaskeyMichael McCaskey, former Chicago Bears chairman, dies at 76

Michael McCaskey, who took over the reins of the Chicago Bears from his grandfather George Halas in 1983 before the team achieved its greatest moment two years later, died Saturday. He was 76.

McCaskey became the president and CEO of the Bears after Halas’ death in October 1983 — taking over for the man who founded the franchise and co-founded the NFL — and remained at the helm of the organization in a 27-year run, serving as the chairman of the board from 1999 until 2011, when he stepped down and was replaced by his brother George.

Michael McCaskey battled cancer for a considerable time. The oldest of Ed and Virginia McCaskey’s 11 children, he is survived by two children, John and Kathryn, and one grandson, Jackson.

“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 released by the team. “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.

“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. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. Our focus in the coming days will be to celebrate Mike’s life and be whatever source of support we can be to John and Kathryn and those they love.” 

By Brad Biggs. Published in the Chicago Tribune May 16, 2020
Kyle Pruett, for the ’65 Whiffs, remembers: “Mike’s daughter, Kit, and I spoke 2 weeks ago, and she asked any of the ’65 Whiffs who could, to send him a brief video ‘saying hello, since it was hard for him to manage any other kind of communication.’ He was a great fan, having apparently been disappointed to not have been tapped in 1965. Unembittered, he formed a group of his own called the Poofenwhiffs who enjoyed performing together on and off for years. Kit recalled those gatherings fondly. Mike asked to attend our erstwhile ‘rehearsals’ prior to our last reunion performance, and as an ‘n of 1’, lavished praise where little was deserved. A steadfast and classy friend, unique in his talents and spirit in our class, indeed in our world.”