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Ted Phillips escapes purge; will help choose Bears next GM, coach

Ted Phillips is still standing tall at Halas Hall.

The Bears seemed to make all the right moves after a 5-11 season— chairman of the board George McCaskey and Phillips, the team president, not only announced the firing of general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman, but the hiring for former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi as a consultant in the ensuing searches for replacements.

But Accorsi will only be a consultant. As Phillips himself explained, he and McCaskey will make the final decision on the general manager and coach.

“Ernie is going to make recommendations, is the way we look at it and ultimately on the general manager it will be George and myself [making the decision],” Phillips said.

That will come as a disappointment to some Bears fans who would like Phillips and McCaskey — neither of whom has a football background — to stay out of it. No such luck. Why wasn’t Phillips included in the purge?

“Our family has complete faith in Ted. He has our support,” McCaskey said. “And we’re confident that in making the changes that we’re making today and going out and finding a new general manager and a new head coach, we can return the Bears to greatness.”

Shouldn’t Accorsi, a well-respected personnel man in the NFL for many years, make the final decision? McCaskey talked around that one.

“I think Ted and I understand the history of the Bears,” McCaskey said. “One of the things that Ernie said right away, he was quick to say — and this is why we thought I would be such a good fit — that, at least on paper, he once worked for George Halas. When George Halas was president of the National Football Conference, Ernie was assistant to the president. He mentioned he was a suite mate of Brian Piccolo’s at Wake Forest University. I think he gets what we’re looking for. It’s an appreciation of the history, the legacy of the Bears, but Ted and I have lived it. Ted, for the last 30-plus years, me, for my entire life, and we feel that a collaborative effort is the best way to go.”

For what it’s worth, Phillips is confident that with Accorsi’s help, he and McCaskey can find better people.

“Bringing in an expert consultant like Ernie Accorsi I think is a huge difference,” Phillips said. “The prior process was a thorough search. We talked to a lot of people throughout the league both current personnel folks and coaches and ex-coaches and GMs. I think what we have now with Ernie coming in is someone consistent who is giving us a voice on a daily basis who’s on our side and doesn’t have any other agenda to try to push their own people.

“Ernie is a longtime football man. He understands the tradition, the importance of football in Chicago and I think that alone is going to be a very valuable addition.”