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Bears, Chair George McCaskey widely criticized for front-office stagnation

McCaskey has hired two GMs and three coaches since taking his current role in '11 and Bears have not won a playoff game during that timeGETTY IMAGES

The Bears will have "no major structural changes" in the front office following the dismissal of GM Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy, except that the new GM will report to team Chair George McCaskey instead of President & CEO Ted Phillips, according to Sean Hammond of the Chicago DAILY HERALD. McCaskey said that the new GM will "oversee the entire football operation, as was the case when Pace was in the position." McCaskey and Phillips have "swung and missed at the head coach and general manager positions numerous times over the years," hiring two GMs and three coaches since McCaskey took his current position in '11. The Bears have not won a playoff game during that time. However, McCaskey and Phillips will be on the GM search committee along with Bears VP/Player Engagement LaMar "Soup" Campbell, Senior VP/Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Tanesha Wade and Pro Football HOFer Bill Polian (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 1/11). In Chicago, Kane, Biggs & Wiederer in a front-page piece note McCaskey consulted “a number of people” in NFL circles, including Polian, before "making the decisions and finalizing his conclusion Sunday night" to fire Pace and Nagy. He said that Bears Owner Virginia McCaskey "also was consulted as part of the team’s board of directors” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/11).

THE USUAL SUSPECT: In Chicago, Patrick Finley notes the next seven days will be "no different than it was seven years ago: Phillips will take part in interviewing and helping McCaskey pick the next GM." He even will "negotiate the contract with him." Once that is done, Phillips "still will be McCaskey’s most trusted adviser, holding the same position he has had since 1999." Those who hoped for a "dramatically different structure -- the hiring of a president of football operations, who then would pick the GM -- will have to keep waiting." Phillips’ presence in end-of-season news conferences as a "surrogate for McCaskey" has made him a "symbol of stagnation to many Bears fans" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/11). The SUN-TIMES' Jason Lieser writes it is "hard to assess how big of a change it is" when Phillips will still be on the search committee. Lieser: "Why allow Phillips that much input when he’s supposedly being separated from the football side of the Bears?" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/11). The TRIBUNE’s Kane, Biggs & Wiederer note there has been “much scrutiny in recent years” around the role of Phillips. He has been in his current position for 23 seasons, a "lengthy stretch defined by mediocrity" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/11).

NO SIGNS OF NEW HOPE: In Chicago, Jason Lieser writes any "optimism that sprouted from the Bears resetting the organization" by firing Pace and Nagy "wilted when McCaskey laid out plans to find their replacements." In McCaskey’s decade of running the organization, the Bears have hired Nagy, John Fox and Marc Trestman as coaches, along with Pace and Phil Emery as GMs. Lieser: "Not a winner in the bunch." Phillips has done "such a great job of overseeing” the GMs that he has lost the responsibility. So Phillips supposedly is "removed from the chain of command but still will be influential in the new hires" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/11). USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes whatever "hope there was that the Bears were headed in a better direction ... evaporated by mid-afternoon." McCaskey in the span of an hour said that he was "'a fan, not a football evaluator' yet didn’t see the need to have someone who is overseeing the team," and that part of the new GM's job would be to "teach him the ropes." Where the McCaskeys have "failed is thinking they can continue operating their franchise as if it’s still part of a league that is barnstorming around the Midwest rather than the multibillion international juggernaut that is today's NFL." The NFL is a "cut-throat, what-have-you-done-for-me-now league," and McCaskey showed "once again that he and his family are in over their heads" (USA TODAY, 1/11).

JUST ANOTHER TYPICAL DAY: In Chicago, Rick Morrissey writes if fans “fall for whatever George McCaskey was trying to sell Monday, then it’s on you." He admitted that he is a "football fan, not a football expert," which is "somewhere between amazing and criminal." He also has worked for the franchise for 30 years. One would think some knowledge "would have seeped in under the door along the way." Meanwhile, Phillips being on the search committee is a "slap in the face to all the Bears fans who were hoping for real change" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/11). In Chicago, Dan Wiederer writes yesterday seemed to be "just another confusing chapter in the Bears’ frustrating existence," leaving an "increasingly aggravated fan base with a familiar beatdown feeling." With a chance to establish a new direction and “reinvigorate the masses by expressing a clear and energizing vision," McCaskey instead told the outside world he is "just a fan running one of the most tradition-rich franchises in sports." Even McCaskey yesterday seemed accepting that a "loyal fan base conditioned to disappointment was possibly going to feel dejected again soon" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/11).

FAMILY DOESN'T KNOW BEST: In Chicago, Mark Potash writes the "only standard" for McCaskey is the "approval of family and friends." The "missing element" yesterday was a "change at the top, with the Bears hiring a president of football operations -- a football czar, a football guy, just somebody who grew up in the game -- a little higher than director of ticket operations" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/11). In Chicago, Bernie Lincicome writes as long as the "cardboard grandson runs the Bears from his seat of privilege and progeny," more of the same "must be expected, dithering, dawdling and see you in four years to do this all over again" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 1/11). Meanwhile, the SUN-TIMES’ Rick Telander writes it is not going too far to say Virginia McCaskey “needs to own the past and to ponder whether maybe she needs to step down, move over or simply wash her hands of all things football" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/11).

FACING ANOTHER PR HEADACHE: In Chicago, Brad Biggs writes as McCaskey was working to "wrangle himself out of a public-relations disaster," he "created a new one by going after beloved" former Bears C Olin Kreutz. McCaskey insinuated that Kreutz "lied while revealing last week on WSCR-AM 670 that the Bears offered him a part-time position in 2018 for $15 per hour." McCaskey: “I’ve learned over the years to take just about anything that Olin says with a grain of salt." Kreutz was "angered by McCaskey’s assertion that his recounting was not accurate." He replied, “George hasn’t even talked to me in 11 years, and he’s going to say everything I say, he takes with a grain of a salt? You don’t even know me anymore" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/11).

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