Perhaps Virginia McCaskey should be coaching the Bears. If her son is to be believed, the 91-year-old owner of the team has more fire in her belly than any of the last four head coaches.
I want to make it clear that I’m not championing her candidacy. I fear that chairman George McCaskey might take it under serious advisement, given the dearth of football knowledge at Halas Hall. Remember, he and president Ted Phillips were the geniuses who had hired the men they fired Monday: general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman.
A lack of life has been the team’s calling card for years now. But, oh, Virginia. Her Georgie boy was asked Monday how she had reacted to the Bears’ wretched 5-11 season. He paused 10 seconds before answering, a bit choked up over the words he was about to deliver — words he apparently had jotted down on a piece of paper before the press conference began.
“She’s been very supportive,’’ he said. “She agrees with the decisions that have been made. She’s pissed off. I can’t think of a 91-year-old woman that that description applies to, but in this case I can’t think of a more accurate description.
“She’s been on this earth for eight of the Bears’ nine championships, and she wants more. She feels that it’s been too long since the last one, and that dissatisfaction is shared by her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. She’s fed up with mediocrity. She feels that she and Bears fans everywhere deserve better.’’
If Virginia McCaskey is pissed off – does she really use the phrase “pissed off?’’ – then just maybe there’s hope for this franchise. But here’s some free advice for George McCaskey: Nobody wants to hear about the glorious past. Nobody wants to hear about the franchise’s legacy, about old man Halas, about World War II war bonds or whatever schmaltz you’re selling.
The Bears have hired former Colts, Browns and Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi as a consultant in the search for a new general manager and coach. What it means is that McCaskey and Phillips have not absorbed enough football to be able to choose among the obvious candidates for both positions. It also means that somehow Phillips remains employed.
What stood out from Monday’s press conference was McCaskey’s admission that he was attracted to Accorsi’s historical ties to the Bears. I wanted to scream, “No, no, no!’’ Enough with the past, a past that hasn’t been glorious for a long, long time.
“One of the things that Ernie said right away, and this was why we thought it would be such a good fit, was that at least on paper, he once worked for George Halas,’’ McCaskey said. “When George Halas was president of the National Football Conference, Ernie was assistant to the president. He mentioned that he was a suitemate of Brian Piccolo’s at Wake Forest University.
“So I think he gets what we’re looking for. It’s an appreciation of the history, the legacy of the Bears.’’
Let me reiterate my earlier thought: No. What is it with this city? The obsession with the past, with all its cloying sweetness, has dragged down the Cubs for the years. There is something very hidebound about the Bears, which is why they keep hiring people who look and act like George McCaskey. Emery. Trestman. Jerry Angelo. Dick Jauron. Lovie Smith. This is 33 flavors of vanilla.
It’s why the characterization of Virginia McCaskey as “pissed-off’’ resonates a bit. While her son talks about the organization’s collaborative decision-making approach (Trestman wins!), at least someone involved with the team isn’t approaching this like a Harvard Business School class.
George McCaskey says he’s not specifically looking for a fiery coach, in the same way he’s not specifically looking for a head coach who has been an NFL head coach or a general manager who has been an NFL general manager before. Well, he should be looking for all of that. The approach of the past hasn’t worked. Elevating a coordinator to head coach hasn’t worked since Mike Ditka. Elevating a personnel guy to general manager hasn’t worked, period.
Tear up the past and forget about it, George. Or dust if off in your private moments while you’re warming your slippers by the fire. Don’t burden the franchise and the fan base with the same mistakes. Do something different. Get a coach and a GM who have succeeded at the highest levels.
Who are flammable.
Like a certain 91-year-old woman.