LAKE FOREST, Ill. – While Halas Hall remains shuttered to players due to the NFL lockout, a significant event transpired on the second floor of the training facility Thursday morning.
George McCaskey (right) has replaced older brother Michael as Bears chairman of the board.
“It’s humbling and exciting,” said George McCaskey, the eighth oldest of Ed and Virginia McCaskey’s 11 children. “All that my brothers and sisters are asking of me is everything that I’ve got, and I’m sure Bears fans expect nothing less than everything that I’ve got, and that’s what I intend to give.”
George has headed the ticket office since 1991. In his new role as chairman of the board, his primary responsibility will be to represent the Bears in league matters. Team president and CEO Ted Phillips will continue to run the day-to-day operations of the club.
“I don’t see any dramatic changes,” George said. “My role will really be as a sounding board, an advisor if Ted wants me in that role; as a representative of the family, of ownership and the board; and to create as positive of an environment as possible. The way I see it my job is to work with and in support of the president and CEO in creating a climate that’s conducive to sustained success.”
George has been attending league meetings for the past year to prepare for his new position.
“Mike’s been very good about showing me the ropes,” he said. “I have met with a few NFL owners. I’ve got more meetings scheduled. They’ve been very helpful, very accommodating.
“I’m hoping to meet with some Chicago sports team owners. I’ve already spoken to Mr. Ricketts [of the Cubs] and would love to line up something with Mr. Wirtz [of the Blackhawks] and Mr. Reinsdorf [of the Bulls and White Sox].”
Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys was the first NFL owner that George McCaskey met with.
“He was very gracious, very accommodating,” George said. “He’s a fascinating guy. I really enjoyed visiting with him, getting to know him. We sat in a suite at Cowboys Stadium and looked out over the field. We then went downstairs and bumped into a tour group. As soon as they saw who he was, they were going crazy. They were taking pictures and he was chatting them up.”
Michael McCaskey, meanwhile, steps down after serving as chairman of the board since 1999. At 67, he wants to travel more with his wife and pursue a passion he has for photography. His photos are on display at his personal web site, www.michaelmccaskey.com.
“I’m excited about opening the next chapter in my life,” Michael said. “Looking at the Bears, I think we’re in real good hands with my brother George as chairman and Ted as the CEO. So I leave feeling very good about what the future may bring.”
Michael served as team president from 1983-99 before becoming chairman of the board. Asked about his most memorable moment with the club, the oldest of Ed and Virginia McCaskey’s children did not hesitate.
“Winning the Super Bowl [in 1985],” Michael said. “That’s what the Bears are all about and that’s why we have so many terrific people in Halas Hall with that as their passion. When you do win, it’s just the greatest thing in the world.”