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George McCaskey on expectations, price hike, ‘Hard Knocks’ & more

George McCaskey spoke at the NFL owners meetings Wednesday. (Sun-Times media)

PHOENIX — Bears chairman George McCaskey wants to see progress in the third year of general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox.

He wouldn’t set a win total goal, but said he’ll know it when he sees it.

“We want to continue to see progress, see the building blocks,” he said. “But there isn’t any sort of particular threshold.”

McCaskey said the Bears “have confidence in Ryan and John,” and praised the latter’s prudence in eschewing a free-agent frenzy to try and build through the draft.

“Keep building through the draft,” he said. “I told Ryan he should get ripped every time around this year, this time of year ever year for not being more active in free agency. And that’s because we’re developing our own guys and rewarding our own guys.”

Other topics McCaskey addressed during a 25-minute gathering at the NFL owners meetings:

On raising season ticket prices: “I don’t know that there’s ever a good time to raise ticket prices, but that’s partly a function of our small capacity. We’re one of the smallest, if not the smallest, stadiums in the NFL. We try to keep the expense down as much as possible, as witnessed by two years in which we didn’t raise prices. Sometimes it just becomes necessary. You try to be reasonable about it. you try to explain the reasons for it to people. and hope they continue to support you. Bears fans have been just unbelievably supportive through thick and thin over decades, and I had a chance to see that first-hand in 20 years in the ticket office. It’s something we don’t take lightly.”

On his mom, Virginia: “She sees the progress, but like any Bears fan, she wants results.”

On the NFL approving the sale of Bears shares from one of Mugs Halas’ kids back to the family: “The big thing is that the majority ownership is going to remain in the family. This was a small transaction. As we’ve said many times, we have every intention of continuing to own the Bears.”

On not wanting the Bears to do HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ series: “We’re looking forward to seeing which team other than us is profiled this year.”

On the Bears’ support of a change in the state’s worker’s compensation law, opposed by the NFLPA: “That is part of a larger reform of worker’s comp in Illinois, which is part of a longer, larger grand bargain for a budget in the great state of Illinois. It’s really meant to address what we feel is an anomaly in the law. No other worker in that situation would be entitled to those types of benefits. Illinois is one of the most generous worker’s comp states in the country. There are some states that don’t even have worker’s comp law and don’t have the type of law that would entitle a worker in this situation to those types of benefits.”

On cornerback Deiondre’ Hall being arrested: “We want to find out what happened, Deiondre’s explanation of what happened and then we’ll make a reasonable decision about how to go forward.”