Former Bears General Manager Jerry Vainisi dies at 80

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Former Bears General Manager Jerry Vainisi died in Oak Park, Illinois, on Tuesday, the team announced. Vainisi was 80.

He spent 15 years with the Bears and was General Manager during the team’s 1985 Super Bowl championship team.

His first job with the organization was as the controller in 1972. Vainisi then spent time as treasurer and in-house counsel before serving as G.M. from 1983-87. The Bears were 47-17 in Vainisi’s time as G.M., and they did not have another executive with the title of General Manager until Jerry Angelo in 2001.

Vainisi hired current Bears president/CEO Ted Phillips as team controller in 1983.

“I will always appreciate the few years I spent with Jerry and am forever grateful for his decision to hire me as the Bears controller in 1983, which started my 40-year career with the Bears,” Phillips said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with him and his entire family.”

After his time in Chicago, Vainisi worked for the Lions and then helped create and head the football operations for the World League of American Football. Vainisi’s career continued after football when he took over Hinshaw & Culbertson’s sports and entertainment law division in Chicago. He then bought Forest Park Bank before becoming its chairman and CEO.

5 responses to “Former Bears General Manager Jerry Vainisi dies at 80

  1. He wasn’t a Player Personnal man – his main job became managing Ditka, and he did a great job of it.

  2. Pretty much the gold standard of Bears GMs for a team that has seen some real losers in that chair. They could have really used someone with his personnel acumen the last 20 years or so. RIP.

  3. Finks started the foundation and Vainisi finished it up for the most dominant, and fun, team in the history of the NFL.

    Mr. Vaninisi, thank you and RIP.

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