Who Is the Longest-Running NFL Owner? (Updated 2023)

Who is the longest-running NFL owner? Let's learn about Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey. How did she come to own the team?

Many NFL owners have been in charge of their teams for quite some time. There is one, in particular, who has helmed an NFL franchise the longest, though, and that’s Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey. So how did McCaskey become the NFL’s longest-running owner?

Virginia McCaskey Is the Longest-Running NFL Owner

McCaskey is one of 10 women with a principal ownership stake in an NFL team. The difference for her is she’s older and has been doing this longer than any of them.

Virginia was never supposed to own the Bears. Her father, George Halas, was set to pass on the team to her brother, also named George. Unfortunately, her brother predeceased her father. So when Virginia’s father died in 1983, Virginia inherited the team.

The Halas Family Has Owned an NFL Team for Over 100 Years

The NFL as we know it has largely existed since about 1967, the first year of the AFL/NFL Championship (dubbed the Super Bowl following the official merger in 1970). However, the Bears existed long before then.

Halas founded the Bears in 1919. That’s right. The Bears have been an NFL franchise for over 100 years. Which, coincidentally, is about how long current owner McCaskey has been alive.

Born Virginia Halas, she married Ed McCaskey in 1943, taking on his last name. Ed was heavily involved with the Bears as well, acting as co-owner with her until his death in 2003.

Following Ed’s death, Virginia resumed sole control of the team. During Ed’s time as co-owner, though, he never had any official ownership stake in the team.

The Bears’ Successes Under the Halas Family

The good news for older Bears fans is the team was one of the most successful in NFL history. The bad news is all of their successes occurred when the term “NFL” did not include the term “AFL.”

The NFL did not have a postseason until 1932. That very first season, the Bears were NFL champions. They went on to win NFL championships in 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, and 1963. During that time, they also made four other title games, which they lost. Unfortunately, that 1963 championship would be the Bears’ final success for a long time.

The Bears’ Struggles Since the Merger

Following the Bears’ win in 1963, they didn’t make the playoffs again until 1977 and didn’t win a playoff game until 1984. Fortunately, that 1984 season was the start of a lengthy run of relevancy for the Bears.

The ’85 Bears” are considered the greatest defense of all time. The Bears captured their first and only Super Bowl crown by holding their three opponents to a combined 10 points in the postseason. All 10 of those points were scored by the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

From 1984 through 1994, the Bears made the playoffs eight times. However, after their Super Bowl win, they would only reach the NFC Championship Game one more time, losing to the 49ers in 1988.

Since 1994, the Bears have just six playoff appearances and three playoff victories. They reached the Super Bowl in 2006, losing to Peyton Manning and the Colts. The Bears’ last playoff win came in 2010.

The Future of the Bears

Virginia has 10 living children and over 40 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. At 99 years old, she’s well aware of the importance of considering the future of the organization.

The longest-running NFL owner has expressed confidence that the Bears will remain in her family after she’s gone.

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