Recent NFL Rule Change Likely ‘Aimed’ at Bears: Report

Virginia McCaskey

Getty Virginia McCaskey, team owner of the Chicago Bears, will likely benefit from a recent NFL rule change.

The Chicago Bears could remain in the McCaskey family for decades to come after a recent NFL rule change.

The franchise was founded by George Halas in 1920, and when he died in 1983, his eldest daughter, Virginia Halas McCaskey, took over as majority owner of the team. She is still the team’s owner at 99 years of age — and after NFL owners recently voted to lower the required percentage a controlling owner must hold of their respective NFL franchise from 5% to 1% — it looks as though the McCaskeys could own the team for the foreseeable future.

Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic reported on May 24 that the new rule change was very likely aimed specifically at both the Bears and the New York Giants, as the new rule applies only to teams that have had the same ownership group for 10 years or more, with at least 30% of the franchise needing to be controlled by the owning family’s members.

Considering McCaskey told Dan Pompei of The Athletic back in 2016 that the franchise will remain in her family “until the second coming,” this new rule change makes that possibility more realistic than ever.

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McCaskey Family Currently Owns 80% of Franchise

McCaskey and her children currently own and control 80% of the franchise’s stock, with the team’s board of directors consisting of McCaskey, her sons George — who is also the team chairman — Brian, Edward and Patrick McCaskey, along with to minority owners Pat Ryan and Andrew McKenna. President and CEO Ted Phillips is also on the board.

According to Kaplan’s report, the league may have been thinking of the McCaskey and Mara families — the latter of which owns the Giants — when changing the percentages.

“Frank Hawkins, a former NFL finance executive, believes the recent drop is aimed, for now, at two teams: the Giants and Bears, clubs controlled by families with many siblings and looming estate-planning issues,” Kaplan wrote, adding Hawkins also told him that “it’s only for long-standing ownership families,” and “that it relates to the need to give them (the Giants and Bears) structures that they’re going to be able to make work if they want to stay in the league.”

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New Rule Change Will Be Easier on McCaskeys Financially

The new rule change also makes it easier on the McCaskey family to keep the Bears from a fiscal standpoint.

According to Front Office Sports, “Under the previous rules, the team’s $4.1 billion valuation would require each family member inheriting the team to hold at least a $205 million stake in the club. The amendment reduces that amount to $41 million.”

The Bears have already purchased the rights to the Arlington Heights racecourse property, where the building of a new stadium feels imminent, and the McCaskey family should have an easy time holding onto the team through that process and far beyond.

“The NFL wants to help its family owners who might need a boost,” Kaplan wrote, adding Hawkins also told him the league would “keep doing a lot revolving around that sort of core principle that if an existing owner wants to stay in, he’ll be able to do so; his family will be able to do so.”

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