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updated: 9/3/2014 10:18 AM

Imrem: It's easy these days to appreciate the McCaskeys

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  • Former Bears head coach Mike Ditka talks with George McCaskey, chairman of the board of the Bears, at Soldier Field.

      Former Bears head coach Mike Ditka talks with George McCaskey, chairman of the board of the Bears, at Soldier Field.
    John Starks/Daily Herald, December 2013

 
 

A question was raised a couple of weeks ago after a photo surfaced of apparently inebriated Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones snuggling with a couple of young ladies.

Would Bears fans rather have Jones or the McCaskey family own their team?

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Then Tuesday came news that Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay plead guilty to driving while intoxicated.

Found in Irsay's car were large amounts of prescription drugs and money. A charge of possession of a controlled substance was dismissed.

For his transgressions, Irsay was suspended Tuesday for six games and fined $500,000 by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

So, another question: Would Bears fans rather have Irsay as their owner or the McCaskey family?

The Colts have been successful on the field since Irsay took over the team from his late father, with first Peyton Manning and now Andrew Luck at quarterback.

The Cowboys haven't been successful on the field for a while since Jones appointed himself general manager, but he has managed to maintain the Cowboys' glamour and made them wildly successful as a business.

While the Bears built a home stadium that is small by NFL standards, Jones built one that is a remarkable monument to himself and his team.

As circuses go, Jones enjoys being in the main ring. While most NFL teams run from distractions, the Cowboys are bringing in openly gay Michael Sam for a tryout this week.

Jones and Irsay are as omnipresent as their football teams. Jones traditionally has been accessible to the mainstream media, and Irsay has been a mainstay on social media.

The McCaskeys, meanwhile, are private people. Even when Mike McCaskey ran the team, he tended to shy away from the spotlight.

I asked Jones for a few minutes of his time during Super Bowl week in 1993 and the conversation went on and on. We spoke longer in one night than I had with Mike McCaskey for nearly a decade.

But even as I criticized McCaskey during his tenure as Bears president, I always tried to remember that he spent time in the Peace Corps as a young man.

So here are the answers to the questions: I would rather party with Jones, avoid Irsay and have the McCaskeys as next-door neighbors.

That doesn't reveal which would be better owners of the Bears, which should be left to all of you to determine for yourselves.

I will say this: The recent scandals, Jones' mini and Irsay's maxi, gave me a fresh appreciation of the McCaskeys.

No, the family hasn't done a very good job of building football teams since inheriting the franchise from family patriarch George Halas.

The Super Bowl XX champions essentially were built under Papa Bear Halas' watch. Since then the coaches the McCaskeys hired, the new Soldier Field they built and the record they established haven't inspired.

But the McCaskeys never embarrassed the franchise, the NFL or the community.

There's something to be said for that but isn't expressed very often.

Maybe that's because owners should be expected to behave in the dignified manner that the McCaskeys have behaved.

That goes for professional athletes, too. They shouldn't have to be commended for conducting themselves in a civil manner.

But so many athletes have gone bad -- heck, teams like the 49ers currently are wobbling because of player conduct -- that credits to the game from veteran Peyton Manning to youngster Russell Wilson should be highlighted.

Now with Jerry Jones and Jim Irsay being in the news recently for the wrong reasons, commendable people like the McCaskeys should be, well, commended.

Whether that means the Bears' owners are preferable to the owners of the Cowboys and Colts … that question is left for Bears fans to answer.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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