Jerry Vainisi, former Bears general manager, dies at 80


CHICAGO – He’s one of the people who shaped the last Super Bowl championship team won by the Bears.

Even though his time as general manager was short, his impact was felt by those in the franchise for years after.

That’s how Jerry Vainisi is being remembered after his death at the age of 80 in Oak Park, which was announced by the team on Wednesday.

A native of the Chicago area, he was a member of the Bears organization for 11 years, most notably as the general manager from the start of the 1983 season through the end of the 1986 campaign. In that span, the Bears won three NFC Central division championships and Super Bowl XX during the 1986 season.

A graduate of Georgetown University and Chicago-Kent School of Law, Vainisi joined the team in 1972, starting as the team’s comptroller. During his time with the franchise, he was also the team’s treasurer while also serving as in-house counsel.

In 1983, Vainisi was elevated to the general manager role with the Bears as he replaced Jim Finks, who had been in that position since 1974. He would serve as the team’s general manager through the 1986 season when he was fired by team president Michael McCaskey.

After that, Vainisi would work as the vice president of player personnel for the Lions from 1987-1990 before leaving that job to help start the football operations for the World League of American Football.

He would leave the sport in 1995 and joined the law firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson, later becoming the chairman and CEO of Forest Park National Bank and Trust.

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