Bears100 Celebration Draws Massive Crowds, Team Luminaries
The Bears estimate 8,000-10,000 fans attended each day of the team's three-day Bears100 Celebration Weekend at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center this weekend, which "might have been the largest assembly of Bears fans outside a stadium," according to Patrick Finley of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Many former players were in attendance, but none of them "got the same reactions" as the '85 Bears (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/10). The SUN-TIMES' Finley noted some fans stood in a line that "wound for blocks" to get into the convention center. As Bears Chair George McCaskey's car got close, McCaskey "looked out his window and saw the line -- several hundred people, if not more than a thousand -- waiting to get into the convention center" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/9). In Chicago, Rich Campbell noted the event "celebrated team history to the fullest" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/9). The TRIBUNE's Brad Biggs notes the biggest takeaway from the weekend was seeing "how much the players enjoyed the opportunity to come together again, to see former teammates and to rub shoulders with some of the legends who have played the game for the organization" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/10).
RARE APPEARANCE: In Chicago, Hub Arkush wrote some fans' "loyalty was rewarded by a truly special appearance" by Bears Principal Owner Virginia McCaskey. After this weekend's celebration, it is "hard to imagine the team being in a better place with fans" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 6/10). The SUN-TIMES' Finley noted when Virginia McCaskey "spoke at a panel on the final day of the Bears100 Celebration Weekend, it was the first time some fans had heard her voice." McCaskey is "notoriously private," but she "let her sense of humor shine through" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/10). Also in Chicago, Dan Wiederer writes McCaskey's perspective was "unique and insightful." At 96, she "charmed a riveted audience" at the convention center with "stories from long, long ago and ambitions for the immediate future." Over the last year or so, she has "spent more than 15 hours connecting with longtime football writers Don Pierson and Dan Pompei sharing her memories and insights for the Chicago Bears Centennial Scrapbook." McCaskey "not only remains sharp and sweet but intensely competitive" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/10).
THROWBACK APPEAL: The TRIBUNE's Campbell noted the Bears on Friday "unveiled a classic alternate uniform they will wear twice" in '19 to commemorate their 100th season. The uniform is a "replica of what the team wore" in '36 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/8). The TRIBUNE's Biggs notes the jersey "was a huge hit with the fans who came through the doors." There were many fans "wearing the new white jersey everywhere you looked" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/10).
HONORING A LEGEND: In Chicago, Mark Potash noted Pro Football HOFer Gale Sayers, who is "suffering from severe dementia," made an appearance at the event Friday night in a "bittersweet moment on a night of celebration." Appearing on stage with Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka, Sayers "showed no acknowledgement of the ovation he received from Bears fans" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/8).