Michael Johnson Pyle


Died July 18, 1939 – July 29, 2015,Highland Park, IL

College: Timothy Dwight
Major: Industrial Administration

Widow: Ms. Candy Pyle
1 Court of Lagoon View
Northbrook, IL 60062
847-272-8963 (Fax)
847-542-7953 (mobile)

Children: Cameron, 1972; Scott, 1976; Samantha, 1970; Holly, 1974
Grandchildren: Jake, 2002; Luca, 2003; Joseph, 2004; Nico, 2006; Katie Grace, 2007

Mike Pyle, Captain of 9-0 Yale Team and Champion Bears in ’63, Dies at 76

See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/31/sports/mike-pyle-captain-of-9-0-yale-team-dies-at-76.html?_r=0 and see the Photos tab for photograph.

Mike Pyle, the captain of Yale’s last unbeaten and untied football team and of the 1963 N.F.L. champion Chicago Bears, died at 76 on Wednesday in Highland Park, Ill., after a decade-long battle with dementia, which his family believes may have resulted from the battering he took as an offensive lineman.

Pyle’s wife, Candy, said the cause was traumatic brain hemorrhage. She said his brain had been sent to a Boston University center pursuing research into brain impairment linked to repeated head trauma.

“He played in the days when if you could count your fingers, you could go back into the game,” Mrs. Pyle said, referring to blows to the head. Her husband knew of three specific concussions he had incurred, she said, two with the Bears and one at Yale.

Pyle was among the many former N.F.L. players who sued the league, charging that it had disregarded cognitive dangers resulting from football collisions. A potential $1 billion settlement is being overseen by a federal judge in Philadelphia.

Pyle, who died at an assisted living center, had received payments from a plan jointly administered by the N.F.L. and the players’ union that assists former players with medical expenses related to dementia.

Mike Ditka, the Chicago Bears’ Hall of Fame tight end, played alongside Pyle and recalled how centers were particularly vulnerable to head trauma.

“In my day the helmets were not the best, just a piece of plastic, and the center got pounded, slapped in the head all game,” the author Rich Cohen quoted him as saying in “Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football” (2013).

The Bears selected Pyle in the seventh round of the 1961 draft after he won all-Ivy League honors as Yale’s center in his junior season and as an offensive tackle in 1960, his senior year. Yale was 9-0 that year, its first perfect season in 37 years, and was co-recipient with Navy of the Lambert Trophy as the East’s top team.

When Pyle arrived at his first Bears training camp, he was hefty enough, at 6 feet 3 inches and 250 pounds, but had to prove that his Ivy roots did not make him too soft for pro football.

Kevin Turner, a former N.F.L. player who has A.L.S., is the co-lead plaintiff in the suit.Judge Approves Deal in N.F.L. Concussion SuitAPRIL 22, 2015

Ottis Anderson, a former Giants running back, was one of 75 former players who sued the N.F.L. The players claim they suffered multiple concussions that team personnel improperly diagnosed.Retired Players Sue N.F.L. Over Treatment of ConcussionsJULY 20, 2011

“They gave me a little needling about being a ‘Yale boy,’ ” Pyle told Richard Whittingham for the oral history “Bears in Their Own Words” (1991). “They’d give me a little extra shot in practice, then they’d kid me. Eventually, they kind of said this guy’s not a bad football player. He’s standing up and taking it, so maybe he’s not a Yale wimp.”

Pyle captained a perfect Yale football team.

Pyle was a starter in his first pro season and anchored the Bears’ offensive line in the team’s 14-10 victory over the Giants in the 1963 N.F.L. title game, twice helping to open holes for touchdown plunges by quarterback Bill Wade. Pyle played in the 1963 Pro Bowl game and was named by United Press International as an all-N.F.L. second-team player for the ’63 season. He had diabetes, requiring insulin injections, but missed only five games over nine seasons.

Michael Johnson Pyle was born on July 18, 1939, in Keokuk, Iowa, and grew up in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, Ill. His father, William, was an executive for Kraft Foods. Pyle was an all-state high school football player before going to Yale, where in addition to playing football under Coach Jordan Olivar, he was a shot-putter and discus thrower.

In addition to his wife, the former Candy Allgauer, Pyle is survived by his son, Cameron, and his daughter, Samantha Buono, from his marriage to his first wife, Shary, which ended in divorce; a stepdaughter, Holly Cir, and a stepson, Scott Allgauer; two brothers, Palmer, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Colts, Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders in the 1960s, and Harlen; and five grandchildren. Pyle was the Bears’ player representative during the 1960s and named president of the N.F.L. Players Association in 1967.

After retiring from pro football, he was a host for pre- and postgame shows for Bears’ radio broadcasts and a host of Ditka’s radio program when he was the Bears’ head coach.

Wearing his No. 50 jersey and using a wheelchair, Pyle attended a ceremony at Soldier Field in 2013 for the 50th anniversary of the 1963 championship team.

“I could see the rapid loss of memory,” Ditka told The Chicago Tribune last year. “He was a Yale guy. He was one of the smartest guys I’ve ever been around. He was my roommate for years. All of a sudden, he was a different guy.”


From http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/ct-family-thinks-cte-may-be-cause-of-death-20150729-story.html

Mike Pyle, the center and captain of the 1963 NFL champion Bears, died Wednesday morning at Silverado Memory Care Community in Highland Park, his wife, Candy, confirmed. He was 76.

“A long time, 18 months in that place. We all think that it was CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy),” Candy Pyle said. “His brain has been sent to Boston (University for testing).”

Pyle suffered from dementia late in his life. He became a part of the lawsuit by multiple players against the NFL regarding CTE.

Pyle was a seventh-round draft pick out of Yale in 1961 and played nine years with the Bears. He later provided pregame and postgame reports for WGN-AM 720. Pyle also co-hosted the Mike Ditka Show on WMAQ-AM with Chet Coppock.

“Mike was just a good guy,” former Bears wide receiver Johnny Morris said Wednesday. “It sounds so simple, but he always was a good guy. I just saw him for the (50-year) reunion for the championship (team in 2013).

“Mike was kind of a calming aspect for the offensive line. He and Bob Wetoska were the guys who kept the line together as a unit.

“Some guys like to pass the ball, like receivers and backs and tight ends. And some guys want to run. Mike wanted to run. He wanted to run that ball.”

A New Trier High School product who also starred as a state champion in track and field (discus and shot put) and wrestling, Pyle was selected to the 1964 Pro Bowl team. He was a past president of the NFL Players Association.

Visitation will be 3-8 p.m. Aug. 6 at Donnellan Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, with a memorial service at 10 a.m. Aug. 7 at Christ Church, 784 Sheridan Road, Winnetka.


Mike’s Essay

I was All-State in football, All-State in wrestling and All-State in track in high school. Coach Jack Prendergast recruited me to go to Yale. The Princeton coach who tried to persuade me told me how easy the academic program was there. I knew that wasn’t true. When I joined the freshman football team I knew I had made the right choice. My teammates were great football players and very helpful in the academic area. Without them, I might not have made it.

I struggled through the first year but made it. My sophomore roommates, all football players, were two high school friends and very valuable teammates, Tom Singleton and Hardy Will. Also, Brian Kenney helped me with my class work so I could stay eligible. Senior year I had the honor to be a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, Torch Honor Society, and Skull & Bones.

I was elected captain of the football team senior year. There were nine seniors and two juniors on the first team. We were expected to be good, and the coaches pushed us very hard. We played better every week and were undefeated. It was the first undefeated team in 37 years and 50 years later remains the only undefeated, untied team since 1923. Several players enjoyed individual honors. I was elected All-Ivy, All-East, Academic All-Ivy, and Honorable Mention, 1960 All American Football Team.

I was drafted by the Chicago Bears and joined the team after graduation. I was elected co-captain in 1963. All-pro defensive end, Doug Atkins (6’8”, 285 lbs.) said “I nominate Mike Pyle because he went to Yale, and I move the nominations be closed.” That was the year, we won the World Championship. (Super Bowl had not yet been created).

When I retired, I had several business opportunities. The fact that I had gone to Yale, had sports honors in high school, and played for the Bears gave me a leg up. I became a radio broadcaster and a stockbroker in Chicago.

I am also a member of several charitable not-for-profits: The Better Boys Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, the American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Michael Jordan Foundation, and the Walter Payton Cancer Fund. I also was President of the National Football League Players Association.

I have enjoyed many years working half the time and volunteering half the time.

DeForest Smith remembers:
Mike will be missed for many reasons. He was the anchor of the definition of “The Undefeated Class.” For that reason Mike and his spirit will live forever in the hearts of the Yale Class of 1961.

Ed and Frosty

Stephen Goldstein remembers:
This E.E. Cummings poem could have been written for Mike, our American hero.

Buffalo Bill’s


who used to

ride a watersmooth-silver


and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat


he was a handsome man

and what i want to know is

how do you like your blue-eyed boy

Mister Death

With joyous memories and deep respect

Steve Goldstein 6Y1

James Hanson remembers:
Mike Pyle was leader and captain of the Undefeated team of Yale’s “Undefeated” Class. He went on to anchor the Chicago Bears line in their 1963 Championship and was their player representative during the 1960s; he was named president of the N.F.L. Players Association in 1967. May Mike long be remembered! We will always be proud of him.

Jim Hanson

John Carmody remembers:
I first met Mike on a beautiful early 1957 September afternoon on the grass next to the Yale Bowl the week before classes began. I was a football “walk on”, without a clue, and remember being amazed at how Coach Gib Holgate seemed to know everyones name. “Hello, Mike.” “How’s it going Tommy.” “Hi Kenny, Jack good to see you.” Then he came up to me, said “hello, welcome” and introduced me to my teammates. I will never forget it. Later that afternoon Mike Pyle, Jack Kickham and I were assigned as permanent practice blocking drill partners. I won’t forget those next three months either. I only played in a couple of games for a couple of minutes that fall and never made the varsity, but through it all Mike, Jack and the rest made me feel a part of the team. For that I thank them. Mike was a terrific guy. I am proud to have known him. JC

Dr John Carmody