Virginia Halas McCaskey
Born
Virginia Marion Halas[1]

(1923-01-05) January 5, 1923 (age 101)
Alma materDrexel University
Spouse
(m. 1943; died 2003)
Children11, including Michael and George McCaskey
ParentGeorge Halas (father)
RelativesGeorge Halas Jr. (brother)

American football career
Chicago Bears
Position:Principal owner
Career history
As an executive:
Career highlights and awards

Virginia Halas McCaskey (née Virginia Marion Halas; January 5, 1923) is an American football executive who is the principal owner of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL). She is the daughter of team founder George Halas and inherited ownership upon his death in 1983.

Early life

She is the eldest child of Bears founder and owner George Halas and Minnie Bushing Halas.[2] Virginia attended Drexel University, majoring in business management[3] with the aspiration of serving as her father's secretary. She was an active member of the local[4] Pi Sigma Gamma sorority, the Newman Club, the Panhellenic Council, and the YWCA.

McCaskey attended her first NFL Championship game, the 1932 NFL Playoff Game, at age 8.[5] She was also in attendance for the first indoor NFL game that same season,[6] and the Bears' victory in the 1940 NFL Championship Game.[7]

Career

Officially, she is the secretary of the Bears franchise, as well as a member of the team's board of directors.[8] However, she is empowered to vote the shares of her children and grandchildren as well as her own. Between them, McCaskey and other Halas heirs own 80% of the Bears.[9] The franchise has been in the hands of the Halas-McCaskey family since George Halas acquired the then-Decatur Staleys from A. E. Staley and moved the team to Chicago in 1921, renaming the team the Bears the following year. The Bears have been owned by the same family for longer than any other family has owned an NFL team.

George Halas had initially intended for Virginia's younger brother George Halas Jr. to inherit the team, and passed the team presidency to him in 1963. However, Mugs died suddenly of a heart attack in 1979. Thus, it was Virginia who inherited the Bears when her father died four years later.

During her tenure as owner, the Bears won Super Bowl XX in 1985, two seasons after "Papa Bear's" death.[10] It was part of a run of five consecutive NFC Central titles from 1984 to 1988. In 1986, she disbanded the team's cheerleading squad, the "Honey Bears", after ten years, arguing that their field performances were "sexist and degrading to women".[11]

However, the team struggled in the 1990s, and since 1999 she has been a very hands-off owner.[12] Her son Michael McCaskey was team president from 1983 to 1999, when Virginia fired him,[13] though he remained as chairman of the board until May 6, 2011, when his brother George assumed the position.[14] George McCaskey had been the Bears ticket office director since 1991.[15] The team president currently has operational control; when Ted Phillips assumed the post in 1999, it marked the first time in the NFL portion of franchise history that a Halas or McCaskey had not held that title,[16] and this has continued under current president/CEO Kevin Warren.

Halas's husband, Ed McCaskey, was previously the chairman and treasurer of the Bears. Although McCaskey never had any official share of ownership, he acted as co-owner alongside his wife before his death in 2003.[17]

On January 21, 2007, she accepted the NFC Championship trophy, which bears her father's name. She called it "her happiest day so far", after the Bears had beaten the New Orleans Saints to earn a trip to Super Bowl XLI.[18]

McCaskey is one of ten female NFL owners as of 2022, including Sheila Ford Hamp (Detroit Lions), Amy Adams Strunk (Tennessee Titans), Kim Pegula (Buffalo Bills), Carol Davis (Las Vegas Raiders), Denise DeBartolo York (San Francisco 49ers), Gayle Benson (New Orleans Saints), Janice McNair (Houston Texans), Jody Allen (Seattle Seahawks), and Dee Haslam (Cleveland Browns).

After the death of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson in March 2014, she became the oldest owner in the NFL and in all major league sports in the United States.[19]

After the death of Arizona Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill in October 2019, McCaskey became the longest-tenured owner in the NFL.[20]

In 2023, she was named as a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[21]

Personal life

She is known for being "proudly private" pertaining to the team her father built, rarely discussing the business aspect of her life. She married Ed McCaskey in 1943,[22] they had 11 children and more than 40 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. McCaskey is a Roman Catholic and considers "faith, family, and football" indivisible in her life.[23]

McCaskey turned 100 on January 5, 2023.[24]

References

  1. ^ "The Story of "Papa Bear" George Halas". Illinois Fighting Illini. February 2, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  2. ^ Jensen, Sean (April 1, 2010). "Heirs and Bears: The mysterious McCaskeys". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on April 4, 2010.
  3. ^ Mayer, Larry. "Virginia Halas McCaskey celebrates 100th birthday". chicagobears.com. Chicago Bears. Retrieved January 6, 2024.
  4. ^ Drexel Fraternities and Sororities History Presentation - lists chapters that existed at Drexel University; the Pi Sigma Gamma chapter there was founded after the national Pi Sigma Gamma organization closed/was absorbed into another organization.
  5. ^ "Mama Bear has a local tie". lancasteronline.com. LNP Media Group, Inc. February 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  6. ^ Mayer, Larry. "Virginia Halas McCaskey celebrates 100th birthday". chicagobears.com. Chicago Bears. Retrieved January 6, 2024.
  7. ^ "Column: Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey turns 100 — and her pride and optimism for the franchise still resonate". bostonherald.com. January 5, 2023. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  8. ^ "Front Office: Chicago Bears". Chicagobears.com. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  9. ^ Wertheim, Jon. "The Family Ownership Dramas That Roil the NFL". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  10. ^ Sessler, Marc (December 29, 2014). "Virginia McCaskey 'pissed off' with struggling Bears". NFL.com. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  11. ^ "Celebrating Virginia McCaskey, The NFL's Grand Dame". sportshistoryweekly.com. January 13, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2024.
  12. ^ "Virginia Halas-McCaskey-Chicago Bears". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  13. ^ "Celebrating Virginia McCaskey, The NFL's Grand Dame". sportshistoryweekly.com. January 13, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2024.
  14. ^ Gano, Rick (April 21, 2010). "Michael McCaskey to Retire as Bears Chairman". Boston.com. Associated Press. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  15. ^ Briggs, Brad (November 1, 2011). "Addressing issues: A new McCaskey takes the helm". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 1, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  16. ^ "Ted Phillips-President and CEO". ChicagoBears.com. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  17. ^ Warren, James (August 30, 1987). "It's 4th Down For Halas Heirs In Family Feud". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  18. ^ Fusfeld, Adam (January 29, 2011). "Meet the 88-year-Old Grandmother Who's One Win Away From the Super Bowl". BusinessInsider.com. Business Insider. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  19. ^ Vergara, Andre. "Billionaire Girls' Club: 4 of sports' richest team owners are women". FoxSports.com. Fox Sports Interactive Media, LLC. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  20. ^ Duncan, Jeff (March 29, 2014). "Succession plan in place for New Orleans Saints and Pelicans to remain with Tom Benson's family". NOLA,.com. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  21. ^ "Steve McMichael, Virginia Halas McCaskey among Hall of Fame semifinalists".
  22. ^ "Virginia Halas McCaskey celebrates 100th birthday". chicagobears.com. Chicago Bears. Retrieved January 6, 2024.
  23. ^ "Faith, Family, Football". Drexel University. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  24. ^ Hawley, Larry (January 5, 2023). "Bears' Virginia McCaskey turns 100-years-old Thursday". wgntv.com. Nexstar Media Inc. Archived from the original on January 17, 2023. Retrieved January 7, 2023.