Former Chicago Bears president and CEO Michael McCaskey died on Saturday after a battle with cancer, the team announced.
He was 76.
McCaskey led the Bears for nearly three decades and brought the franchise it’s one and only Super Bowl win during the 1985 season. He was named NFL Executive of the Year after that win, too.
McCaskey is the oldest of team owner Virginia McCaskey and her husband Ed’s 11 children. He was named president and CEO in 1983 following the death of his grandfather George Halas, who founded the Bears and helped found the NFL in the 1920s.
McCaskey served as chairman of the board from 1999 to 2011, when he stepped down and was replaced by his brother.
“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, via the Chicago Tribune. “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.”
The team reached the postseason 12 times under McCaskey’s leadership, including a second Super Bowl appearance in 2006 and an NFC Championship game in 2010 just before he retired.
“My heart is heavy as I think about Michael McCaskey, and I can’t believe he is no longer with us,” Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips said in a statement, via the Chicago Tribune. “His fierce love of the Bears was unmatched, as was his intellectual capacity and thirst for knowledge on a myriad of subjects ... 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.”
McCaskey graduated from Yale in 1965 and spent two years in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia. He also worked as a professor at both UCLA and the Harvard Business School, served on multiple NFL committees and pushed the team to play in the league’s first “American Bowl” game in London in 1986.
“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 said in a statement, via the Associated Press. “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.”
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