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McCaskey family gathers to watch documentary


Bears owner Virginia Halas McCaskey and about 20 members of her family spent an entertaining and emotional afternoon Sunday at Halas Hall.

They gathered in the George "Mugs" Halas Jr. Auditorium—named after Mrs. McCaskey's late brother—to watch a private screening of the documentary "A Lifetime of Sundays."

Mrs. McCaskey is featured prominently in the 90-minute film, which offers an unprecedented look at the history of the NFL from the unique perspective of four iconic female owners. The others are Martha Firestone Ford (Lions), Norma Hunt (Chiefs) and Patricia Rooney (Steelers).

"A Lifetime of Sundays" is part of the NFL's initiative to celebrate the league's 100th season and to champion the women who have played vital roles in its history.

"I thought they did a great job," said Bears chairman George H. McCaskey, Mrs. McCaskey's son. "Four great women, each with her own phenomenal story to tell, and they told it beautifully."

Mrs. McCaskey is the daughter of George Halas, who helped found the Bears and the NFL in 1920. She was born in 1923 and attended her first game as a toddler. No one has had a more unique view of the growth of the Bears and the NFL.

In the documentary, Mrs. McCaskey shares her memories of Red Grange and the barnstorming tour that popularized professional football, the heartbreak of her relationships with celebrated Bears running backs Walter Payton and Brian Piccolo and her reaction to unexpectedly inheriting the Bears in her 60s.

"I have been told that I have watched more football than anyone else alive," Mrs. McCaskey says in "A Lifetime of Sundays."

Seeing his mother's life chronicled in the documentary was an emotional experience for George McCaskey, who invited all Bears staff members to attend the private screening.

"I was jokingly passing around the tissue box [before the film started] and then in the middle of it I was wishing that I had kept a couple for myself," he said. "It's a truly moving, poignant story."

Bears vice president Patrick McCaskey, another of Mrs. McCaskey's sons, felt the same way.

"Very emotional," he said. "She's a wonderful woman, a wonderful person, a wonderful mother. I thought it was marvelous, terrific."

Mrs. McCaskey is featured in the documentary attending daily 6 a.m. Catholic mass, at games home and away—she travels with the Bears to every road game—and addressing players and coaches at Halas Hall.

"She doesn't speak often in front of the team," former Bears cornerback Charles Tillman says in "A Lifetime of Sundays." "But when she does, it's powerful. She's got a voice, and when she's in the room, you're going to listen."

"I don't want them to look at me as some little old lady who's just kind of hanging around," Mrs. McCaskey says in the documentary." "I want them to know how much I care about the Bears and them."

"A Lifetime of Sundays" is narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Regina King and co-executive produced by 11-time Emmy Award-winner Bill McCullough, Julie Haddon and Jane Skinner Goodell, the wife of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

The documentary features a panel discussion with the four owners that's hosted by Mrs. Goodell.

"A Lifetime of Sundays" premiered at the NFL's annual meeting in Arizona in March. It was televised for the first time Sunday on ESPN and will be shown again this coming Sunday on ABC from 2:30-4 p.m. (CT). It will also be available through ESPN authenticated Video on Demand until Sept. 15 when it moves to ESPN+ and will be available for streaming.

After watching the documentary Sunday, George McCaskey said he felt gratitude that his mother has "been able to live that life, and that Jane Goodell persuaded her and the other women to permit their stories to be chronicled because that story needs to be told."