That football czar you’ve been clamoring for the Bears to hire? The one I’ve been clamoring for, too, the one with broad powers to transform the franchise?
Yeah, well, about him: His name is Phil Emery. And Jerry Angelo. The past two general managers were football czars with all kinds of autonomy. The problem was that they weren’t especially good at it.
It’s the choosing of GMs that has been the issue, so Bears fans won’t have any peace of mind knowing that the same people who hired Emery – chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips — are in the process of hiring his replacement.
Oh, the franchise indeed has brought in former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi as a consultant in the selection of a GM and a coach, and he is drawing up a list of what appears to be the obvious suspects. Hiring Accorsi was McCaskey’s nod to those of you who don’t think he and his henchman, Phillips, have any knowledge of what has come to be known as “football.’’
But to many savvy observers of this franchise, all of it appears to be more of the same. Remember, the Bears hired Angelo as their general manager in 2001 only after his name showed up on a list provided by a search firm. At the time, Angelo was in deep disguise as the director of player personnel for the Buccaneers, then a member of the Bears’ division.
If Accorsi announces that he “discovered’’ Emery’s replacement standing by a Packers’ water cooler, no one should be surprised.
Yes, the Bears need a football overlord with vast experience and success who can make all the important decisions regarding the roster. Here’s the problem: Unless there’s a way that such a man can spontaneously materialize, without the stamp of approval of McCaskey and Phillips, then there’s a good chance this opportunity is doomed.
The Bears need an Ernie Accorsi to be their GM — fully formed, created independently of Halas Hall, with no taint of this sad organization on him. Someone who can have a separate entrance to the building until such time it becomes clear he can’t be contaminated. Someone who has been a general manager before.
What they don’t need is an Angelo trading two first-round picks and Kyle Orton to Denver for Jay Cutler. They don’t need an Emery compounding the mistake by signing Cutler to a two-ton contract.
Is that hindsight? Sure. So is saying, “I wish I had noticed that the stoplight had turned red.’’
In the days leading up to the firings of Emery and coach Marc Trestman last week, there were reports that the Bears might change to a Cubs-like power structure. They would hire their version of Theo Epstein, who has complete control over baseball operations on the North Side, and “allow’’ Phillips to concentrate on the business side. The meat of those reports was the part where Phillips would be moved as far as way from football decisions as possible. Say to Moline.
Alas, those reports ran up against the great wall of intractability that is the Bears.
When it was announced that Phillips would join McCaskey at the press conference Monday to address the firings, it meant that Phillips was going to be heavily involved in finding replacements for the not-so-dearly-departed Emery and Trestman.
It meant that the cycle would continue. And so it has, with people on the Bears’ list of general manager candidates more suited to franchise’s speed – not former GMs, but scouting directors, assistant GMs and the like.
You tend to trust people who have been successful in the same job before – not relative unknowns like Emery and Trestman. The Bears appear to be heading in that vague direction again. If your neck hurts, it’s probably from shaking your head so often.
There’s a huge lack of trust toward the Bears in town, as there should be. Epstein hasn’t won much in Chicago yet, but he has built up a farm system of high draft picks. Whether they turn into big-league producers remains to be seen. But fans trust him because he won two World Series in Boston, because his plan makes sense to them and because he seems to know what he’s doing.
Yeah, that kind of power structure, please.
There is an incredible buzz around the Cubs heading into the New Year because they hired a manager, Joe Maddon, who had been successful as a real-live manager before. And Maddon’s presence helped in luring big-time pitcher Jon Lester through free agency.
Yeah, that kind of buzz, please.