Chicago Bears President Ted Phillips should not be involved with interviews

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: President and Chief Executive Officer Ted Phillips of the Chicago Bears looks on from the sideline before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on September 22, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Bears defeated the Steelers 40-23. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: President and Chief Executive Officer Ted Phillips of the Chicago Bears looks on from the sideline before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on September 22, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Bears defeated the Steelers 40-23. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

Chicago Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips survived yesterday’s purge. Out are Ryan Pace as general manager and head coach Matt Nagy. The one man who has epitomized the Chicago Bears mediocrity since 1999 when he was elevated to his role, still gets to keep his keycard to Halas Hall.

What is worse, he still gets a voice in selecting the new general manager and head coach. That is right, Bears fans, he gets to stay in the room where it happens. If there is one thing Phillips has proven, he is no Alexander Hamilton.

The Chicago Bears have just six winning seasons, six playoff appearances, two NFC Championships games, and lost one Super Bowl while Phillips has had a general manager report to him. He has gone through four general managers and five head coaches.

Phillips runs a football business but has admitted to not having any football expertise. He has been in charge for 22 years, employed by the Bears for 38 years, and probably still has no clue where the film room is at Halas Hall or what the I-formation is. That is like having someone be in charge of a bakery and the person does not know how to light the oven.

Thankfully, during yesterday’s embarrassing press conference, Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey did announce that the new general manager will report directly to him and not Phillips. The sad part is that Phillips had to persuade McCaskey to take on supervisor duties, because Ted needs to focus on the purchase of Arlington Race Track and potentially turn that site into the Bears’ new stadium in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Yet, Phillips will still be a part of the general manager search committee. Why? Well, because he also serves as McCaskey’s consigliere–except George cannot see that Ted Phillips is more of a Fredo and less of a Tom Hagen.

"“I trust Ted implicitly,” McCaskey said. “I have great respect for his judgment, his analytical skills and his instincts in evaluating the people we’re interviewing. And in the end, he’ll be negotiating the contracts with the new general manager and new coach.”"

It is okay to have Bill Polian and his years of championship experience helping in the process. It is a great idea to have the director of player engagement, Lamar “Soup” Campbell, on the search committee. He knows the current players and also has an extensive football background.

Tanesha Wade’s inclusion on the committee ensures the Chicago Bears interview a diverse group of candidates.

Phillips being in the interview room or on the Zoom calls so he can negotiate a contract is absolute nonsense. This will not be the first contract Phillips negotiates. All that needs to be done is tell Phillips this is guy, work out the contract details, and make sure to remember the whole reason he got this job in 1999 was that the previous guy bungled a contract.

The Chicago Bears showed this morning positive change was coming. By the afternoon, all the Chicago Bears’ ownership did was make it clear that Ted Phillips still gets a voice in football matters. Here we come back to the why which I thought we were done with finding the why now that Nagy is no longer the coach.

It was looking even more promising when it appeared that only McCaskey was speaking. Then the press conference happened and there was Ted–although he did not answer many questions. His presence just put a dark cloud over the whole thing.

It would have been nice to hear that Phillips was either retiring or being moved to just business operations president with no more say in the football portion of the Bears. Instead, it is status quo for Phillips with a slight alteration. Maybe it is because McCaskey just does not want a football czar.

I guess Phillips remains with his title because of semantics or maybe because McCaskey is afraid giving the football expert a president title will suddenly give that person magical powers that will turn George into a football expert.

I know it is semantics but being stubborn on a football operations president is not thinking big picture.

The front office role George McCaskey is looking to fill is essentially the president of football operations without the title. The general manager will be the top football person and report directly to ownership. By being afraid of a football czar’s magical powers, it limits the Bears’ scope of restructuring the front office to a degree

For example, one of the first candidates to call is Baltimore Ravens Executive Vice President, Ozzie Newsome. He built an outstanding front office in Baltimore. Then he handed off the general manager title. If he is interested in the Bears’ job, do you think he is going to leave Baltimore for a role he already gave up? Probably not.

Also, a successful front office sometimes has additional layers to work smarter and not harder. It means dividing out roles and that means possibly more people in the front office.

McCaskey’s thinking just seems to be stuck in the same old, same old, and let’s get a general manager and be done with it.

The other reason this is a big deal is that it shows the Chicago Bears are not seeing the big picture on the possible new stadium in Arlington Heights, IL.

The Chicago Bears have a chance to build a state-of-the-art facility in the Chicago suburbs. Yet, they are treating the process like a wait-and-see situation. I get closing on a deal like this is going to take some time.

In the meantime, the Bears need to start making sure they are prepared for the fight to get to Arlington Heights. The impression McCaskey and Phillips gave is that is another day’s problem.

If they want Phillips to spearhead the Arlington Heights project, he should not be wasting time in interviews. He should be touring as many NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB stadiums to get the best ideas possible.

He should be prepping to fight Chicago politics. He should be already engaged in finding ways to secure financing to build the new stadium. He should be meeting with developers on getting ideas for developing the rest of the land. Ted should already be holding preliminary talks with Cook County, Arlington Heights, and the state on possible infrastructure needs like expanding roads and highways near the land.

Maybe Ted is doing all that.

The vibe from the press conference is all of that is on the back burner because George needs Ted desperately in the room.

George needs Ted to secure a new stadium that the Bears control and not Ted securing the proper wording on page two of the new general manager’s contract.

In this end, it is not as bad as it seems because keeping Ted and giving him a say in the next general manager and head coach was about the sixth-worst thing to come out of the press conference.

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