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The [Michael McCaskey] Papers

What do you call Michael McCaskey's retirement or 100 Lawyers at the Bottom of the Ocean? A good start!

- BearGogglesOn

If only.

"It looks as though Bears fans will have the McCaskey clan to kick around for another generation or two," the Sun-Times reports.

"That's the upshot of the Bears' surprise announcement Wednesday that chairman of the board Michael McCaskey is retiring from that position after the 2010 season and handing off the job to younger brother George, who currently serves as the team's director of ticket operations."

Who is George McCaskey?

A Kingston resident who's been the team's ticket director since 1991, according to the DeKalb Daily Chronicle.

"George McCaskey served as the assistant state's attorney in Lee County and DeKalb County before joining the Bears in 1991," the Tribune reports.

What impact will this have on the Bears?

"Angelo Hints At More Changes," the Tribune reports.

"Don't Expect Much Change," the Tribune reports.

How awkward is Michael McCaskey?

Ask Jerry Jones.

But Jones says the McCaskeys are the gold standard.

Yes, but gold ain't what it used to be.

"What a disaster," a fellow owner once told Yahoo's Michael Silver.

Added Silver: "McCaskey, the nominal head of the league's Super Bowl committee, takes that role very seriously: Before the most recent vote he reminded his fellow owners how important it was to be polite during the presentations, earning eye rolls throughout the room."

But isn't McCaskey some sort of management expert?

Yes, he once wrote The Executive Challenge: Managing Change and Ambiguity. You can get a used copy on Amazon for 13 cents.

Well that's a bit of a cheap shot, isn't it?

Not really.

"Ditka's tenure was marked by frequent clashes with Michael, who grudgingly gave Ditka an extension in 1984 but ultimately rid the organization of Ditka after a 5-11 record in 1992 following disappointing playoff losses the previous two years," former Tribune Bears beat writer John Mullin reports for Comcast SportsNet.

"McCaskey left on a family vacation after the season, however, and let the decision and Ditka hang for the better part of two weeks. When he returned, Ditka was fired."

I guess that's the managing change part. But the managing ambiguity is even better.

"The Michael regime was then rocked and effectively brought down in January 1999 by failed negotiations around the attempted hiring of Dave McGinnis as head coach to succeed Dave Wannstedt, who was McCaskey's hire to succeed Mike Ditka in 1993," Mullin writes.

"Contrary to some reports, the McGinnis debacle was not brought on by a press release prematurely announcing McGinnis' hiring.

"McGinnis was angered by the presumption behind the release primarily because no contract or salary was in place. But talks went forward and in fact succeeded in arriving at a four-year contract with escalating salaries.

"The entire business came to a crashing close, however, when McCaskey asked for a buyout option after two years. When McGinnis argued that it would then be effectively just a two-year contract, and that McGinnis could not ask assistants (including Mike Martz as offensive coordinator) to move their families to Chicago with that slight security, McCaskey lost McGinnis forever when he asked, 'But do they [the assistants] have to know?'"

Virgina McCaskey was forced to replace her own son as team president.

Or, as Chicago magazine put it in 1999: "[U]nder his leadership, the team stumbled so badly that his mom had to fire him."

Chicago magazine said that?

And more.

"Behind his back, sports reporters have referred to him as Montgomery Burns, the miserly and merciless cartoon boss on The Simpsons," Jonathan Eig wrote for the magazine, which hasn't yet thought to put their piece online.

"Former employees and city officials have described him as arrogant and aloof, the kind of guy who uses big words to make others feel inferior."

And yet it was McCaskey who was never up to snuff, despite his delusions seemingly borne of grand insecurity.

"[M]any observers have blamed McCaskey for the long descending spiral," Eig wrote. "For one thing, though it might have been the right thing to do, he fired Ditka, the most popular coach in the team's history. He also dismissed Jerry Vainisi, the general manager who helped assemble that championship squad. McCaskey never did hire another GM. Maybe he wanted to save some money, but it seems more likely he thought he could do the job better himself."

McCaskey's incompetence is legendary, though. After years of bumbling through negotiations for a new stadium, Richard M. Daley finally refused to meet with McCaskey anymore.

You get the feeling McCaskey has always wanted to be something he isn't; a grand builder, a wise executive, a general manager worthy of his family's lineage, a respected intellectual - he wanted to play quarterback at Yale but rode the bench as an extra wide receiver instead.

Or maybe he's just oblivious.

"Even as the (1985) team charged toward the Super Bowl, some players and staff began to resent the team president's cold, businesslike approach, his tightness with cash, and his seemingly massive ego," Eig wrote.

"'There's only so much money to go around' - that was an expression he used quite frequently,' recalls Jim Dooley, who played for the Bears in the fifties, and coached them in the sixties and the eighties. 'First the Christmas bonuses were eliminated, then the mascot was eliminated, and then the Honey Bears [cheerleaders] were eliminated . . .

"Jim McMahon was among the first to publicly predict that McCaskey's approach would ruin the Bears. 'Michael McCaskey doesn't have any qualifications to operate the Bears, except his name,' the quarterback wrote in his 1986 autobiography. 'He went from Yale to Harvard to running his own consulting firm to running the Bears. He took over as president and chief executive officer in November of 1983, and before he got his feet wet, he was jumping around our locker room, in January of 1986, with a Super Bowl trophy. He must think he's the reason we won . . . Most of us just laugh to keep from strangling him.'"

Gee, I'm starting to sort of feel sorry for the guy!


"He's the most arrogant person you'll ever meet in your life," a former member of the Bears administration told Eig. "He thinks he's smarter than everybody. He has a great command of the English language, and instead of talking to you he talks above you. He has absolutely no people skills."

And now he no longer needs them.


Comments welcome.

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