NOTE: CONGRATS TO UFFICIO, CHAMPION OF THE PICKS CONTEST. PLEASE EMAIL ME AND WE’LL SET YOU UP WITH YOUR PRIZES.
When an NFL franchise fires their General Manager, it is usually because that franchise has a dearth of talent on their roster. (See: Rams, St. Louis) That is simply not the case with this current crop of Chicago Bears. The Bears have their quarterback. They have an All-Pro running back. They have a group of brilliant (if aging) defenders and the most electric return man in the history of the sport. The man who accepts this position at Halas Hall may only be a few savvy moves from cementing his legacy in year one.
And it is a legacy that can last. Being the GM of the Bears is not like being the GM anywhere else in the league. In Dallas, Washington, New York and Pittsburgh – four of the league’s banner franchises – the top billing goes to the owner. The GM serves the desires of that owner, in some cases is the owner, and builds a roster according to an organizational blueprint. In Chicago, the largest single-team market in the country, the GM is the top of the football chain (unless that is changing with the arrival of George McCaskey). Super Bowl success with the Bears won’t just lead to a long-term contract extension. It’ll lead to a steakhouse on State Street with your name on it.
What the position also comes with is pressure. More pressure than any other football job in the country. The Bears are stalked by two major newspapers and both of those newspapers employ a few jerks who will spend their lonely evenings mocking every third-round pick fail of your tenure (while casually ignoring anything positive you do). The fans are educated but overwhelmingly irrational. They don’t expect you to field twenty-two great starters. They expect you to field twenty-two great starters with twenty-two great backups ready to step in should the time come. They also seem to want every single free agent available. (I recommend the taker of this job stay off Twitter.)
The next three weeks will be pivotal as Ted Phillips conducts his search for the right man. The right man to lead the Chicago Bears for the next decade. He must not only be a talented evaluator of talent but a man with thick skin. Because no matter what he does, outside of yearly trips to the Super Bowl, the rocks will come-a-flying.