MORRISSEY: Silence from Ryan Pace and George McCaskey is so weak

SHARE MORRISSEY: Silence from Ryan Pace and George McCaskey is so weak

Bears general manager Ryan Pace listens through a doorway as head coach John Fox speaks during a news conference after a loss to the Vikings on Oct. 9 at Soldier Field. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Imagine if the mayor of your town refused to speak with the media except for twice a year. The flow of information would look like a faucet drip. Pesky questions would go unasked. Accountability would be voluntary.

Say hello to your team’s decision-makers, Bears fans. Briefly.


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It’s not a perfect analogy, I know. Bears chairman George McCaskey and general manager Ryan Pace are not public servants. But in some ways, the Bears are a public trust. The team has been around since 1920, and fans have a strong emotional investment. They have lots and lots of questions about a season that is sending up bubbles from the bottom of Lake Michigan. They deserve answers.

The last time that Pace, the builder of this popsicle-stick-and-Elmer’s-glue bucket of a boat, stood before cameras and reporters was after receiver Kevin White got hurt (again) in September. Before that, it was during training camp. Before that, it was the end of last season. Lest you think there were mitigating circumstances that tied his tongue in 2017, this has been his habit since he arrived in Chicago almost three years ago. You’ve heard of two-a-day practices? This guy does two-a-year news conferences.

If the Bears were any good, a team executive might – might – be able to justify his silence as a winner’s privilege. But when his combined record as GM is 12-32, as Pace’s is, it looks like an aversion to heat. It looks cowardly.

McCaskey likewise limits his exposure to the media. If there were SPF-80 for that, he’d be slathered with the stuff. He talks when he has fired someone or hired a replacement, which, OK, is more common than it should be. We’ll probably see him again after this season, when he’s expected to fire coach John Fox and offer his latest “never again’’ speech.

Once in a while, McCaskey will let a reporter tag along with him when he mingles with the paying customers before home games. One of these days, they’re going to find George drunk on Bloody Marys at a tailgate party, ranting that he never wanted to run a professional football team and “what’s a guy have to do to get a real drink around here?’’

Other than those rare occurrences, McCaskey doesn’t feel the need to explain himself or his franchise to the media. Never mind that the Bears are 3-9 and headed toward their seventh straight season without a playoff appearance.

If you don’t like a certain brand of breakfast cereal, you find another one. Unfortunately, there is only one NFL franchise in Chicago. For reasons that continue to defy explanation, many people still support that one franchise by buying tickets. It’s why ownership doesn’t seem to view fielding a winner as a priority and why the higher-ups don’t view meeting regularly with the media as necessary. Why would they, with the coffers overflowing?

The Bears have structured their engagement opportunities with reporters more like a yearly shareholders’ meeting, in which the CEO comes down from the mountain and answers questions. The rest of the time, the Bears prefer to talk in a tightly controlled environment, such as a friendly interview on the flagship radio station. No one on the pregame show is going to ask Pace, “Mike Frickin’ Glennon? Really?’’

Some owners and general managers talk regularly with the media. Some don’t. But when your organization is a consistent loser and when your organization charges fans tons of money for your product, you owe it to them to explain yourself and your failure.

Only one person involved with the Bears is regularly forced to answer for anything. That would be Fox, who talks with reporters almost everyday. He is under a double curse: He clearly doesn’t like public speaking, and he actually believes that the key to success in professional football is keeping everything, no matter how small, a secret. The result is news conference after news conference about nothing.

But it’s Pace’s public reticence that really rankles. There are so many unanswered questions.

— You gave $18.5 million in guaranteed money to Glennon? Are you kidding?

— Have you told Fox to open up the offense to help rookie Mitch Trubisky grow as a quarterback?

— Why not?

— When you talk to Fox, does he pretend he’s getting a phone call?

— Markus Wheaton?

— What’s the viscosity grade of the product in your hair?

Sigh. When Pace does meet with the media, he smiles a lot and makes sure to call as many reporters by their first name as possible. Then he’s gone, not to be heard from again for another five months.

Struggle mightily at your job, make a lot of money and don’t allow yourself to be reached for comment. What a life.

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