I don’t think anyone would dispute the fact that Jim Finks was a great General Manager for the Chicago Bears. Finks had been successful with the Minnesota Vikings, and he did the same for the Bears, building the team up over several years. The Bears would not achieve their championship season until 1985 after Finks had left the team, but there is no question that his efforts helped lead the Monsters of the Midway back to glory. Of course, being a General Manager of a professional sports team in no job for the timid. Here’s a section from Pat McCaskey’s Worthwhile Struggle from our Sports and Faith Series that is Copyright by Sporting Chance Press.
On September 12, 1974, Jim Finks joined the Chicago Bears as the executive vice president, general manager, and chief operating officer. Here is how he built the Bears’ 1985 championship team.
In 1975, he drafted Walter Payton and Mike Hartenstine. In 1976, he signed Gary Fencik as a free agent. In 1979, he drafted Dan Hampton. In 1980, he drafted Otis Wilson and Matt Suhey. In 1981, he drafted Keith Van Horne and Mike Singletary and signed Leslie Frazier, Jay Hilgenberg, Steve McMichael, and Emery Moorehead as free agents. In 1982, he drafted Jim McMahon, Tim Wrightman, Dennis Gentry, Kurt Becker, and Henry Waechter. In 1982, he drafted Jim Covert, Willie Gault, Mike Richardson, Dave Duerson, Tom Thayer, Richard Dent, and Mark Bortz, and he signed Dennis McKinnon as a free agent.
In 1995, my father, Ed McCaskey, presented Jim Finks for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. My father said, Jim was tough but fair and honest, and he believed that building an organization was the key to success on the football field.
“Each year, the Chicago Bears invite their alumni to a dinner and a game in Chicago. Those who can’t come sometimes write letters telling of their most memorable experiences as a Bear. Our fearless safety of yesteryear, Doug Plank, wrote of his most memorable experience. It wasn’t something that happened on the playing field, but in Jim Finks’s office. I would like to read Doug’s letter for you.
“Doug wrote, ‘I had just completed my third year as a starting safety. Since I was drafted in the 12th round, my salary qualified me for low-income housing. I was attempting to double my salary. After I submitted my initial offer to Jim Finks, he immediately countered with a 50 percent reduction in my increase. Intimidated by his position and his negotiating ability, I explained that I would have to discuss the offer with my wife before making a decision.
‘“After my response, the room became quiet, and he started into my eyes for what seemed an eternity. He eventually responded by saying, ‘Doug, go home and talk to your wife, and I will go home and talk to my wife. I want to make certain that I did not offer too much.’”