Former Chicago Bears coach Jim Dooley dies at age 77

Updated: January 8, 2008, 9:34 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Jim Dooley, who succeeded George Halas as head coach of the Chicago Bears, died Tuesday, his daughter said. He was 77.

Lisa Trace said her father, who coached the Bears from 1968-71, had been ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig's disease, for the past 10 years and died at Lake Forest Hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

He had been in the intensive care unit for the past three weeks and had developed pneumonia, Trace said.

"The Chicago Bears was his life until he died," Dooley's wife, Elaine, told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. "He couldn't get to the games in his later years, but he never missed watching a game, never missed yelling."

Dooley spent nearly three decades with the Bears as a wide receiver, head coach and later as an assistant coach alongside Mike Ditka.

Dooley, born in Stoutsville, Mo., was the team's first draft pick from the University of Miami in 1952.

"When Jim was first drafted, he called ... Coach Halas and said, `What's my bonus?" Elaine Dooley recalled. "Halas said, `Your bonus is you're drafted for the Chicago Bears."

He played until 1961, with some time off for military service. Seven years later, Jim Dooley took over for Halas. Dooley was 20-36, including a 1-13 season in 1969, but coached Hall of Famers Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus.

After a stint working in the packing business, Dooley returned to the Bears in 1981 and was assistant coach until 1990.

Dooley is survived by his wife, daughter, four sons and 16 grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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