Pat McCaskey is one that understands true commitment and dedication towards a group of people. A man that has spent 40 years dedicating his time towards a team of individuals that plays to make them, and you, happy. Spend this special day with Patrick McCaskey, a Chicago Bears board member and Bears’ Senior Director of Special Projects, as he stops by the Virginia Theatre to discuss the Chicago team we all hate to love. But before hearing about the Bears’ history, take a glimpse into McCaskey’s life.
Smile Politely: Would you mind starting off by telling readers about your background?
McCaskey: Well, I’m the grandson of George Halas who started with the Chicago Bears in 1920. After going to the Bears’ games since I was five and the Bears’ training camp since I was seven, I started working for the Bears in 1974.
SP: Were you born and raised in Chicago?
McCaskey: I was born in Evanston and raised in Des Plaines.
SP: How did that lead to an interest in football and the Bears?
McCaskey: George Halas was my grandfather and he started the Bears in 1920 and played on the team for ten years. He coached the team for 40 years, and he was the owner of the team for 62 years until he died in 1983 at the age of 88. He left the team to his family and I started going to the Bears games when I was five and the Bears training camp when I was seven. My brothers and I would sit on the bench while my grandfather coached and the Bears players taught us how to play football when we were at training camp.
SP: How was it growing up around the life of football and people that were professionally playing the sport?
McCaskey: It was wonderful. We really appreciated it and enjoyed it.
SP: From there where did you attend college?
McCaskey: I went to Indiana University, Loyola University and DePaul University.
SP: Were you participating in anything dealing with those college football teams?
McCaskey: I played football at Northern High School in Niles. After high school my eye doctor told me no more contact sports. So, I didn’t play in college.
SP: How did it make you feel after you found out you couldn’t play football anymore when it was such a major influence in your life?
McCaskey: I ran cross-country and track. I was an English major because I wanted to be a writer. I’ve had some books published recently. In 2009 I had a book published titled Bear With Me: A Chicago History of George Halas and the Chicago Bears. In 2011, I had a book published titled Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout. A little bit later this year I’ll have another book.
SP: When you started working with the Bears in 1974, who was the star player at that time?
McCaskey: Walter Payton joined the Bears in 1975 and played 13 seasons. He was a great player.
SP: So what exactly was your job with the Bears and what did you do during that time?
McCaskey: I started off in the ticket office and then when training camp started I worked Publicity Assistant. Then I became a Public Relations Director, the Director of Community Involvement, then the Director of Special Projects, and then a Chicago Bears board member.
SP: How long did it take to move from being in the ticket office to being the team’s board member?
McCaskey: I was just in the ticket office for a month before I went to training camp and became the Publicity Assistant. I was in public relations for ten years, community involvement for 15 years, and Director of Special Projects for fifteen years.
SP: As of now, are you still working for the Bears?
McCaskey: Yes, I am. I am still doing special projects.
SP: What do you think of the Bears now compared to when you started working with them in 1974?
McCaskey: [In 1974] we were 4-12. This past season we were 8-8. Between those two seasons we’ve been to the Super Bowl twice and won one time.
SP: So now you have also gone on to writing. How many books do you have written?
McCaskey: I have two published books. One will be published later this year.
SP: What do your books generally discuss for readers?
McCaskey: The first book is about George Halas and the time and history and relation to the Bears. The second book is about people who are devoted and devout. The third book is about NFL coaches who have won three or more championships.
SP: Which book do you think readers will enjoy the most?
McCaskey: I have three sons and I don’t have a favorite son and I don’t have a favorite book.
SP: What topics are you going to cover at the Virginia Theatre?
McCaskey: I’ll be talking about the Chicago Bears history starting with the very beginning of the Bears. There will be an opportunity for people to ask questions.
SP: If anything, what do you hope people who come see you will gain from your presentation?
McCaskey: It’s an opportunity to express appreciation to the University of Illinois [at Urbana-Champaign] because we have pre-season games here and we had our 2002 games here when Soldier Field was being renovated. The University was very gracious to do that.