Former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Vainisi, who helped construct the iconic 1985 Bears Super Bowl-championship squad, died on Tuesday at the age of 80, the team announced.
Vainisi spent 15 years with the Bears organization and four as its GM. Following his time with the Bears, Vainisi spent three seasons as the Detroit Lions' vice president of player personnel and was with the club when it used the 1989 NFL Draft's third-overall pick to select future Hall of Famer Barry Sanders.
In 1972, Vainisi began his career with the Bears as the club's controller. His later titles included treasurer and in-house counsel prior to serving as the general manager from 1983-1987.
Closely linked to then-head coach Mike Ditka, Vainisi was the GM for only four seasons, but myriad success was had during that span. The team went a combined 47-17 during Vainisi's time as GM, which included a trip to the NFC Championship Game in 1984, the Bears' Super Bowl run in 1985 and a Divisional Round loss in the 1986 season.
Vainisi was fired following the 1986 campaign due to differences with team president Michael McCaskey.
The Bears did not have another executive with the title of general manager until Jerry Angelo in 2001.
Following his days in football, which included helping to create and head the football operations of the World League of American Football -- which was rechristened NFL Europe -- Vainisi took over Hinshaw & Culbertson's sports and entertainment law division in Chicago and purchased Forest Park Bank, which he became chairman and chief executive officer of.