This is your moment, Bears fans. This is your chance to say, “Enough.’’
Withhold your money and your loyalty from an organization that has ears but chooses not to hear and eyes but chooses not to see. The team doesn’t listen to you, and it doesn’t notice your pain.
Quit the Bears. Stop supporting this insanity. Don’t renew your season tickets when the time comes to re-up in a few weeks. Don’t go to the games next season. Take up knitting.
I don’t know if your walking away will have any lasting effect on this franchise, but whatever’s left of your dignity will be intact and you’ll feel a lot better about yourself.
If you fall for whatever George McCaskey was trying to sell Monday, then it’s on you. If you hold on to your season tickets out of habit or fear or the effects of a recent concussion, then you’ll have no one else to blame for whatever happens next with this team, which is likely something bad. If you’re sucked in by the possibility of a shiny new stadium in Arlington Heights, shame on you.
What the Bears chairman said in an hour-long press conference should be enough to kill the faith of even the most ardent fan. On the day the team fired general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy after a 6-11 season (good), McCaskey announced that unremarkable, apparently unremovable team president and CEO Ted Phillips would retain his title (bad) and that, in an organizational shift, future GMs no longer would report to Phillips but to McCaskey (from very bad to worse).
McCaskey admitted Monday that he’s a football fan, not a football expert, which is somewhere between amazing and criminal. He has worked for the franchise for 30 years. You’d think some knowledge would have seeped in under the door along the way. Whenever the new general manager does feel the need to report to George, it should be a hell of a conversation.
GM: “We have a problem with our quarterback.’’
McCaskey: “Will it affect my fantasy team?’’
That Phillips is on the search committee that will choose the replacements for Nagy and Pace is a slap in the face to all the Bears fans who were hoping for real change. He knows as much football as McCaskey and a tree stump do. Ownership’s loyalty to Phillips borders on the unnatural.
“I trust Ted implicitly,’’ McCaskey said.
The Bears have hired former NFL general manager Bill Polian, 79, as a consultant in the hiring process for a new general manager and coach. One more time: McCaskey has been in the family business for decades, yet needs help in figuring out who’s who, what’s what and where the men’s room is? The Bears did the same thing in 2015, hiring longtime NFL executive Ernie Accorsi to lead a search that ended with the hiring of Pace and coach John Fox. What’s Curly Lambeau doing these days? And you wonder why my hands want to tear out my hair.
If you’re giddy over the idea of change at Halas Hall, snap out of it. The Bears have a supply chain problem. Their leaders keep supplying coaches and GMs who have no earthly idea how to win. Why expect different now?
If the Bears hire Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh as head coach, your duty as a Bears fan will not be to say: “Wow! Jim Harbaugh! Former Bear! We can win with him!’’ Your duty as a smart, recovering Bears fan will be to say, “If the McCaskeys hired him, something must be very, very wrong.’’
The kindlier among you will say, “Shouldn’t we give the new people a chance?” You’ve given the Bears chance after chance. It’s time to stop. It’s up to Bears officials to lure you back with a winning product. You’ve more than carried the load. You’re absolutely bent over by it. They’ve won one Super Bowl, and it was ages ago. They’ve won six playoff games since the 1985 season. Let the Bears prove something to you before you even think about giving your heart back to them. They don’t deserve it now.
Back in my naïve days, I used to think that the franchise was a public trust, that the McCaskeys were stewards of something that the city treasured. But time after time, they’ve done whatever they wanted without any concern for what fans wanted. The family’s lack of self-awareness about its failings has always been a buffer against the howls of the fan base.
Nothing has changed. Monday’s press conference proved that. Ownership doesn’t hear you. You don’t have a vote or a voice. You’re a sucker.
They’re going to throw Justin Fields at you, the same way they threw Jay Cutler and Mitch Trubisky at you. You don’t want to be left out when we finally have our franchise quarterback, they’ll say, playing on your deepest vulnerability: that the franchise will finally figure out the position and that you’ll be without a ticket when the Super Bowl train pulls up.
Pace and Nagy should have been fired after last season, when they went 8-8 for the second straight year. The Bears held Pace in high esteem because he had led the $100 million expansion of their practice facility. It says everything about ownership that a building devoted to practice would seem to be more important than a devotion to winning games. And Nagy? Ownership liked him because he was nice. He couldn’t design an offense, but he called everybody by their first name.
Please, don’t applaud the Bears for making changes. Don’t talk about an invigorating breeze blowing through Halas Hall. You’ve been through this before. I heard a radio talk-show host express his excitement Monday over a “fresh start.’’ That’s craziness. The McCaskeys will be the driving force behind this fresh start, just as they were the driving force behind all the other fresh starts. At some point, a logical person comes to the conclusion that things won’t change for the better until the McCaskeys change. I think George McCaskey is wearing the same sports coats he wore 20 years ago.
The only way things have a chance of changing is if you force ownership’s hand, Bears fans. Maybe the family won’t sell the team. But at least you won’t be around to condone its behavior.
Quit the Bears, people. You deserve happiness.
Go . . . Chiefs?