PHOENIX – Bears owner Virginia McCaskey is featured prominently in a documentary that premiered Monday night at the NFL's annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore resort.
"A Lifetime of Sundays" offers an in-depth look at the history of the NFL from the unique perspective of four iconic female owners: Mrs. McCaskey, Martha Firestone Ford (Lions), Norma Hunt (Chiefs) and Patricia Rooney (Steelers).
The documentary 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.
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 individual has had a more up close-and-personal 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, her reaction to unexpectedly inheriting the Bears in her 60s and much more.
She was filmed at daily 6 a.m. Catholic mass, at games home and away—she travels with the Bears to every road game—and while she addressed the team.
Former Bears star cornerback Charles Tillman attended Monday night's premiere and spoke about what it was like playing for a franchise owned by George Halas' daughter.
"It really didn't sink in until she would get up in front of the team and give a speech," Tillman told ChicagoBears.com. "She'd tell you a story about her dad. It's nice and cool to see the game through her eyes and how she saw it because anytime we hear about the game of football it's always from a male's perspective—this coach, this GM, this president. Now it's NFL Films based on four women, four pioneers, four matriarchs, and I think that's big."
"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. NFL Films is currently in the process of securing a distribution partner for the documentary.
"The experience of making 'A Lifetime of Sundays' was as inspiring as the women themselves," said Haddon, the NFL's senior vice president of global brand and consumer marketing. "We had unprecedented access and hours of firsthand interviews, coupled with anecdotes from players, coaches, family and fans. Our film proudly shines a light on the significant roles these women have played over a lifetime of football as they led teams in an era where women in leadership was not common."