McCaskey, the son of Virginia Halas McCaskey, the main owner of Bears, was the elder grandson of George Halas and a key cog in the franchise’s front office for decades.
McCaskey joined the family business in 1983 when he succeeded his grandfather as president and chief executive officer and held the position until 1999, when he became chairman of the team. Under McCaskey’s leadership, the Bears had eight playoff seasons, won six NFC Central Division titles and were crowned Super Bowl XX champions. After the 1985 season and this Super Bowl victory, his peers elected him NFL Executive of the Year. McCaskey was chairman of the Bears board from 1999 to 2011.
“We are grateful to Mike for overseeing arguably the best team in NFL history, and for his many years of service to the Bears and to us,” said the McCaskey family in a statement. “The eldest of eleven siblings has many duties imposed on him, not all of which are pleasant, but Mike handled them all with grace and patience. Although Mike’s death was not caused by the novel coronavirus, our family, like so many, is unable to come together and cry together at this time. “
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell paid tribute to McCaskey in a statement, calling him, among other things, “a driving force behind the expansion of the NFL’s international footprint with the first game of the American Bowl in London highlighting featured the Dallas Bears and Dallas Cowboys in 1986 “.
“Michael McCaskey proudly continued the legacy of his grandfather and NFL pioneer George Halas as president and team president and was instrumental in the success and popularity of the Bears,” said said Goodell. “The Bears’ memorable season in 1985 and their victory at Super Bowl XX helped propel the NFL onto the world stage. Michael was a driving force behind the growth of the NFL’s international footprint with the first American Bowl game in London with the Dallas Bears and Dallas Cowboys in 1986. He was also dedicated to serving his community and helping to create Bears Care, which has become a model foundation for supporting charities in the Chicago area.
“Michael was a calm and healthy voice at league meetings, worthy of his time as a teacher before becoming president of the Bears. “
In the spring of 1997, under the leadership of McCaskey, the Bears moved from the original Halas Hall on the Lake Forest College campus to a new state-of-the-art facility, where the team still resides. The move provided the team with its own private campus that included an indoor practice facility in addition to the space that eventually became outdoor practice areas.
“My heart is heavy when I think of Michael and I can’t believe he is no longer with us,” said Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips. “His ferocious love for bears was second to none, as was his intellectual capacity and thirst for knowledge on a multitude of subjects. Michael has shown a faculty presence that can be difficult but also inspiring. I will be eternally grateful for the many growth opportunities it has provided. “