Jerry Vainisi, a former general manager for the Chicago Bears who was instrumental in building the storied 1985 Bears Super Bowl title team, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80, the organization reported. Vainisi served as the Bears’ general manager for four of his fifteen years there. Following his tenure with the Bears, Vainisi served for three years as the vice president of player personnel for the Detroit Lions, where he was there when the team selected Barry Sanders, a future Hall of Famer, with the third overall choice in the 1989 NFL Draft.
Vainisi started working for the Bears as the organization’s controller in 1972. Prior to holding the position of general manager from 1983 to 1987, he later held the positions of treasurer and in-house counsel.
Vainisi, who was closely associated with the team’s head coach at the time, Mike Ditka, served as GM for just four seasons, but that time period saw a great deal of success. During Vainisi’s tenure as general manager, the club had a combined record of 47-17, which includes a trip to the 1984 NFC Championship Game, the Bears’ Super Bowl run in 1985, and a Divisional Round defeat in the 1986 campaign.