Former Bears, Colts GM Bill Tobin dies at age 83

CINCINNATI -- Longtime NFL executive Bill Tobin died at the age of 83, the Bengals announced Friday.

Tobin is best known for being the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears and serving as the Detroit Lions' director of player personnel. He was a consultant with the Bengals from 2003 until 2022.

Bengals president Mike Brown called Tobin "a true NFL success story."

"He was a good person and I considered him a good friend," Brown said in a statement. "With Bill, I respected everything he said. I just took it as a given. He had an eye for players and what they would develop into. If he said the guy was a good player, then he was a good player; that's all I would need to know. We will miss him."

A native of Burlington Junction, Missouri, Tobin was a halfback at Missouri, where he was a three-year letterman for the Tigers from 1960 to 1962. He was named the MVP of the 1962 Bluebonnet Bowl and inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. He played for the AFL's Houston Oilers in 1963, where he was the team's rookie of the year.

After starting his scouting career in 1971 with the Green Bay Packers, Tobin spent the bulk of his career with the Bears. During an 18-year tenure, he served as the team's general manager from 1987 to 1992. He held the same role with the Colts from 1994 to 1996 and was the Lions' director of player personnel from 2001 to 2002.

In his time in the NFL, Tobin selected players such as linebacker Mike Singletary and running back Marshall Faulk, who were both inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and current Los Angeles Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh, who was a former quarterback for the Bears.

One of Tobin's most notable selections came in 1994, when the Colts selected former linebacker Trev Alberts with the fifth overall pick. Tobin's response during the ESPN broadcast included the infamous quip, "Who the hell is Mel Kiper anyway?" -- a reference to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s criticism of the selection.

Kiper joined those who honored Tobin on Friday. In a social media post, Kiper called it a "sad day" and said Tobin was "an accomplished front office executive who made the NFL a better league during his decorated career."

Colts owner Jim Irsay also offered his condolences on social media.

"He lived a magical life associated with the game he loved, and our league will miss him," Irsay said.

Tobin's son, Duke, has worked in the Bengals' personnel department since 1999 and is Cincinnati's de facto general manager. Duke Tobin's pre-draft news conference Friday afternoon was canceled.