PHOENIX — From opening the Bears’ 100th season against the Packers to explaining the rationale behind the NFL’s newest instant-replay rule, chairman George McCaskey had plenty to discuss when he met with reporters after the league meetings concluded Tuesday night.
But McCaskey also was in a storytelling mood. He shared “a little episode” in which he lost his Super Bowl XX ring that he received after the Bears’ fabled 1985 season.
“I used to wear it every day,” he said.
The exact details fortunately have been forgotten, but McCaskey recalls that his panic set in during the Bears’ return flight after playing the Bengals in Cincinnati. He didn’t have his ring.
“I was sick to my stomach, and Bob Laskowski — who at the time was our United Airlines rep and since came to work for the Bears and has been with us for many, many years — tore the plane apart for me,” McCaskey said. “I was very embarrassed. Our doctors were looking under their seats and the overhead bins and the seat backs and the pockets.’’
They couldn’t find it. It wasn’t on the plane. McCaskey said he hoped it was just lost.
But then he received a call from a fireman whose department helps service the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
“He said, ‘Hey, I was on a vehicle on the jetway, and we’re trained to look for debris on the tarmacs that could be sucked into a jet engine, and I’ve got your ring,’ ” McCaskey said.
“He didn’t want any money, didn’t want any reward. He wound up coming to a Bears game or going to a Bears game. I don’t remember what the details were, but the ring was smashed. It had gotten run over by one of the airport vehicles.”
McCaskey’s Super Bowl ring — and his father’s 1963 championship ring — are now locked away.
“Since then, I don’t wear it all the time,” he said, laughing. “They’re both in a safe place.”
A special trip
This year’s league meetings were special for the McCaskey family. Not only is the Arizona Biltmore considered a beloved location, but the Bears and NFL started celebrating their 100th seasons together.
The festivities included the premiere of “A Lifetime of Sundays,” an NFL Films documentary featuring the Bears’ Virginia McCaskey and other female owners (the Lions’ Martha Firestone Ford, the Chiefs’ Norma Hunt and the Steelers’ Patricia Rooney).
“It celebrates their lives in and around football,” George McCaskey said. “It’s just a very moving and powerful story. They each came to the game via different paths, but their love for the game is pretty profound.”
Virginia McCaskey also was interviewed for the Bears’ special centennial scrapbook.
“She amazes me on a daily basis,” George McCaskey said. “Her recall is phenomenal.”
More from McCaskey
Named chairman in 2011, McCaskey said “making sure everybody is on the same page” is the most important thing about his job. He has that now with general manager Ryan Pace, coach Matt Nagy and president/CEO Ted Phillips.
“I’m very excited in that regard with the collaboration that I talked about between Ryan and Matt,” he said. “We’ve got good communication with Ted. We’ve got a good structure. . . . I like where we’re headed.”