McCaskeys don't pack much punch

Picking on the Cubs is getting old, so let's turn our cynicism toward the Bears.

Yes, even in 90-degree weather with NFL owners locking out their players.

First let's be balanced and point out that Bears owners, the McCaskeys, are a wonderful family. You never hear about them being involved in domestic violence, drunken driving or pornographic texting.

Other NFL teams are laying off employees or slashing salaries because of the labor dispute. The last time I asked, the McCaskeys had done neither.

OK, now for the other side of the balance sheet: The McCaskeys disappoint as NFL owners and as descendants of George Halas, who merely invented the freaking league.

Papa Bear was a dynamic, colorful, compelling character. By comparison, the McCaskeys are too much Lady and not enough Gaga.

Consider two recent developments: The NFL's secret labor talks and the Big Ten awarding its football title game to Indianapolis.

A select number of NFL owners and players met in St. Charles last week to discuss their differences.

One report mentioned the Cowboys' Jerry Jones, Patriots' Robert Kraft and Panthers' Jerry Richardson. Another mentioned members of the Giants' Mara family and Steelers' Rooney family.

Nowhere in any story could I find one of the myriad McCaskeys attending.

Now, this would be understandable if the meetings were just outside Boston or Dallas. But they were right here in suburban Chicago, with Jones and Kraft making a splash by arriving at DuPage Airport in private jets.

Two possibilities exist: The McCaskeys weren't notified of the meetings or they were and chose not to attend.

Which would be worse, the Bears' owners not being significant enough to be invited or not wanting to be involved?

Either way the McCaskeys aren't in a league, so to speak, with the jet-setting Joneses and Krafts.

Mike McCaskey turned over his duties as Bears chairman to brother George McCaskey this spring, an odd time to retire with the labor dispute jeopardizing the 2011 season.

Even odder is that Mike taught in the Harvard Business School. Shouldn't someone with that background be at the center of the NFL talks, or at least in St. Charles to listen to them?

All of it punctuates that George Halas' heirs aren't influential enough to hang with NFL owners like Jones and Kraft.

Then there's the Big Ten football title game.

Count the reasons the conference snubbed Soldier Field: No dome, slip-sliding turf and a city that put together an offer the Big Ten could refuse.

However, stadium capacity also had to be an issue. Soldier Field's is the NFL's smallest at 61,000, though Lucas Oil Stadium's in Indy isn't much bigger.

This goes back to the Bears agreeing to play in a stadium with fewer than 80,000 seats. Would the Big Ten have turned down the revenue from nearly 20,000 additional paying customers?

The Packers are about to expand Lambeau Field to more than 80,000 seats, so even Green Bay thinks bigger than the Bears do.

Anyway, Indianapolis gets the Big Ten title game, next season's Super Bowl and future Final Fours.

Papa Bear must be wondering about smaller communities in Indiana and Wisconsin looking larger than this football hotbed in Illinois.