Not even a pandemic can keep Virginia McCaskey away from a Chicago Bears game.
The 97-year-old matriarch of the franchise will be in attendance at Ford Field Sunday when the Bears open the 2020 season against the Detroit Lions.
“I talked to her a couple of weeks ago,” Bears chairman George McCaskey said Thursday. “I said 'So I take it you will do whatever is required of you to attend the games?' And she paused and said, 'Yes'. In that tone, I think you have heard yourself -- leaving no doubt about where she stands.”
And no one around the organization is surprised.
"That does not surprise me at all. She is just so resilient. Who she is as a person. Hearing that she's going to be there, it gets you really excited," Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. "What this team and this organization, this city, these fans and everybody, what everybody means to her as players and coaches, to have her support there at the game is what it's all about."
Virginia McCaskey is close friends with Martha Firestone Ford, the 94-year-old matriarch of the Lions who just recently gave up her role as principal owner and chairperson of the franchise. The NFL documentary ‘A Lifetime of Sundays’ details their relationship and shows McCaskey attending a game at Ford Field while visiting with Martha Firestone Ford. It has become somewhat of an anticipated event each year, and although there won’t be fans in the stands, George McCaskey had concerns about how many people would be in contact with his mother this Sunday.
“I talked to the Lions' security guy just yesterday and told him when she gets there, we want as wide a berth as possible,” McCaskey said. “The Lions are great about welcoming people at Ford Field. There are a lot of people being very gregarious and saying how happy they are that you're there. They're especially happy to see her because they see her year after year. We told them we understand that you want to be friendly and welcoming, but we want to take every precaution.”
Unfortunately, the annual meeting between Virginia McCaskey and Martha Firestone Ford won’t be happening.
“They're not going to be able to have their usual pregame visit, which I'm sure is going to be very disappointing to both of them,” George McCaskey said. “It's great to see both of them get back together. But the Lions and the Fords and everybody want to be as cautious as possible.”
George McCaskey has been extremely cautious during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, he revealed that Thursday was just his second day back at Halas Hall since March. He hadn’t even met new quarterback Nick Foles yet.
As for his mother, she’s hard to keep in the house.
“She's back to pretty much her regular routine, she's allowed to go to daily mass, and they have protocols at the church she attends,” McCaskey said. ‘She's back to her workout facility three times a week so she's got a bit of her routine, but she likes to get out there. She doesn't like to be cooped up in the house. I'm sure she's looking forward to Sunday."
At this point, Virginia McCaskey hasn’t committed to the all the road games, but it will be hard to keep her at home.
“We're taking it one game at a time,” George McCaskey said. “She'll be in Detroit on Sunday.”