By Brian Hanley
CHICAGO (CBS) — Actions may speak louder than words, yet without Bears chairman George McCaskey’s mantra that “winning world championships” is the team’s goal, Jerry Angelo would still be general manager.
McCaskey, a big Blackhawks fan, may still remember how difficult it was for former Hawks GM Bob Pulford to spit out any sentence with Stanley Cup in it.
Championships cost money. Pully was only all too happy with just getting in the postseason. It was a 27-year playoff streak Pully boasted, though missing the NHL postseason takes some horrible hockey through 82 games. That postseason run put money into the team checking account, albeit with no Lord Stanley hardware. Mediocrity meant profit for a long while, but eventually led to only a hardcore handful of Hawks fans willing to make their way to the United Center.
President Ted Phillips, the man who all insisted made the call on Angelo, obviously has heard McCaskey’s mantra about Super Bowls loud and clear, because Bears business as usual wasn’t what took place at Halas Hall Tuesday.
“This is my decision and I have the support of ownership.” Phillips said.
He also said the Indianapolis Colts’ firing of respected executive Bill Polian had no bearing on the decision. If that is the case, better still, because the fans saw reasons for Angelo’s exit years ago.
Still, most expected Mike Martz to be the only sacrificial lamb Tuesday until Mully broke the 9 a.m. bombshell that Angelo was fired.
And if Lovie Smith still wants to debate his team’s one playoff appearance in the past five years, as the condescending coach was eager to do with media Monday, he should have been all ears when Phillips said that fact was “unacceptable.”
That is also why Smith, who has two years left on his $5.5 million per season contract, might also have been surprised to hear Phillips only guarantee his job security through next season.
“But at the same time, we need more,” Phillips said. “The decision was made that we need to keep up the pace with our division rivals. I’m not sure we’re there yet, but our goal always has been to win championships.”
The Bears sure are not there yet and don’t waste time arguing whether former team chairman Michael McCaskey had the same Super Bowl-or-bust mentality George has seemingly has. He didn’t.
Do debate whether Phillips, an accountant by trade, has the football chops to take on the task of finding the GM who will fulfill McCaskey’s quest of winning a Lombardi Trophy more than once every 25 or so years. It is a fair question.
Phillips’ future with the Bears should ride on the success of this hire.
But take this as what it is: a refreshing start.
McCaskey said money would not be a factor in the search for a successor. “We are committed to getting the right people in the right jobs,” McCaskey said.
It would have been very Bears like to simply promote director of player personnel Tim Ruskell, an Angelo friend and confidant hired in 2010 whose five-year stint as Seahawks team president won’t wow many.
After 11 years of Angelo’s often head-scratching draft decisions, it appears the team is willing to do what it takes to land the right man.
“Obviously, we would like to do better in the early parts of the draft,” Phillips said.
It would be difficult to do worse.
Phillips and McCaskey mentioned more than once that closing the talent gap between the Bears and rivals Green Bay and Detroit is priority one.
That talent gap also existed in the front office.
Brian Hanley co-hosts The Mully and Hanley Show, weekday from 5am-9am on 670 The Score.