Thirty-five years old. It’s been 35 years since the Chicago Bears have produced the combination of skilled personnel needed for lasting success:

  • Chairman
  • Director-General
  • Head Coach
  • Quarterback

Thirty-five years old. Let it settle for a while. Then take a deep breath and try not to blow off steam on the nearest remote control. Lately it has been particularly difficult to be a Bears fan, especially considering that teams such as Buffalo, Los Angeles (Chargers), Cincinnati, Arizona, *gulp* Kansas City and Houston have managed to consolidate their franchise commitments. Of course, it would be easy to focus your anger on Mitchell Trubisky, and if you look at the tape (triple/double coverage throw, inability to scan the field, bad footwork, etc.), you’ll see that it’s not a problem.

It is not his fault that the Bears swapped for the second overall choice when his career regents did nothing to justify such a decision and so far there were better options on the board. Not to mention the fact that his support hasn’t really been exceptional since he got the keys to the crime. His defense was erratic to say the least and his lack of weapons in the positions of ability was a constant calling card for the organization, not only in Trubisky’s time, but also since I remember watching the Bears games.

Photo : Kevin Terrell.

In other words, it’s not just about Mitch. No, we need to take a closer look at those who put Trubisky in this position – the ones in the ivory tower that are watching Halas Hall – and realise that if this organisation is finally to move to the next phase, major changes need to be made at the top. I’m talking to you, the McCaskey family. I’m talking to you, Ted Phillips.

Let’s start with the last one. Before joining the Bears in 1983 as team leader, Phillips worked as a chartered accountant and tax advisor. In 1987 he was promoted to Chief Financial Officer, a wise decision given his background. Subsequently, in 1993, the team embarked on a path that would hold back all progress. Despite his lack of soccer experience, Phillips was named Vice President of Operations. Six years later, he was promoted to Executive Director and President – the first person to earn this title for the Bears without being born/married in the McCaskey family. Since his promotion, he has hired three directors: Jerry Angelo, Phil Emery and Ryan Pace.

And if those names aren’t enough to make you crack, here’s the best part:
in 21 years of presidency, the Bears have only made five play-offs.

No, it’s not a typo and it’s totally unacceptable for a team leader in a large market. So it’s more than reasonable to ask how this man can still work for the Bears. Either he’s blackmailing McCaskey, or the owner cares more about winning than winning. Anyway, it’s bad.

Picture: Chicago Tribune

Phillips’ last hire, Ryan Pace, essentially followed the scenario of all Chicago Bears general managers: Charging the defense, drawing/dropping an explosive gymnast, and blowing up just about anything on the attacking side of the ball. At some point the cycle of incompetence must be broken, and the archaic way of working of this organisation must keep pace with the modern evolution of the NFL, which now emphasizes insult. But just as Trubisky is not to blame for being thrown in the deep end without knowing how to swim, so is Pace, who was hired for a job for which he is clearly not qualified.

Ultimately, it’s all up to Phillips and McCaskey, who in turn are responsible for Phillips’ eventual promotion to vice president and then president. Cruncher asked with figures to hire the general manager of a professional football team and was wrong three times. Who could have foreseen this?

What do we do now? It seems of course that the possession of the Bears has created a situation similar to that of the Chicago Tribune when it controlled the Cubs. In other words: The McCaskeys are happy with the status quo as long as it doesn’t affect their very deep pockets (the Bears are currently valued at $3.5 billion). When Cubs’ fans got tired of the defeats and started boycotting games, it no longer made financial sense for the Tribune to retain ownership of the team. They sold to the Ricketts family, who then hired Crane Kenny as president, then Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer, who wrote and signed a quality core for the championship, and then hired Joe Maddon as manager. The rest is history.

Then why don’t we apply the same concept? When will that be enough? When do bear fans get tired of mediocrity and, instead of just expressing their displeasure, actually do something about it? It’s about time. If the team lets the fans in, don’t leave the stadium. If the team asks you if you want to continue buying season tickets, say no. If DirecTV sends you an e-mail asking you to renew your Sunday ticket subscription, cancel it. You’ve got the idea. Hit them where it hurts (pun intended, given what the Philadelphia QB did in Arizona yesterday) and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see the Bears win another Super Bowl.

It’s been 35 years…

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