Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. The Chicago Bears lost to a 1-10 San Francisco 49ers team this past Sunday. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters as long as the Bears have the name McCaskey attached to the organization. In a city known for bad owners over the years, the McCaskey family has to be at the top of the heap.
How could you spend your entire life involved in football and know nothing about the game? When it comes time to hiring new people to run the show, they hire a search firm to feed them names. And the merry-go-round continues.
GM Ryan Pace is likely to survive and select the next coach. But who’s to say he is any better than any other stiff the Bears have had sitting in that chair? He was another name picked out by someone outside the organization as the crème de la crème to run the show. So far, so good. He is the architect of a 12-32 team in the three years he has been on board.
And to think they trashed the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery duo as boobs and showed them the door. Trestman’s 13-19 record in two seasons looks like a blessing compared to the team since Pace and John Fox took over.
Where has it all gone wrong? In 1985, the Bears were sitting on top of the world. They had the youngest team in football when they squashed the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX. At the time, they were considered maybe the greatest team of all-time. Of course, that group never made it back to the Super Bowl.
George Halas, the founder of the franchise and the league passed away in 1983. So he never had a chance to see the finished product. His grandson, Michael McCaskey, was installed as the President and CEO of the team in 1983 after Halas’ passing.
The original plan was for Halas’ son Muggs to run the organization. But then he died in 1979 at just 54 years of age. His sister Virginia pulled a coup and took over the club when her father died and cast the Halas clan aside. If you want to set a time for the demise of the organization, that’s as good as any.
With Mike McCaskey in charge, the Bears eventually floundered. Between causing key components of the championship team to leave due to not wanting to pay the price for talent and eventually a botched coaching hire, the organization suffered.
In the midst of his run, the Bears were in talks with the city of Chicago to build a new football stadium. As inept at negotiating as he was running the franchise, he angered then Mayor Richard Daley into cutting off talks for a stadium. Virginia assigned team accountant Ted Phillips to take over the duties. Eventually, he got a deal done. His reward was being named president—putting yet another unqualified person in a position of power.
Meanwhile, the stadium deal he put together was another losing proposition. They built the new stadium in the bowl of the previous build. It was described as a spaceship landed in a toilet bowl by a local architectural writer. With how bad the Bears have been, the toilet bowl description is fitting.
The Bears should have built a dome or retractable dome stadium to shelter the fans from the cold, Chicago winter. It also could have held events such as an NCAA Final Four or even a Super Bowl. Instead, they have a stadium considered one of the worst in the league.
Aside from the aesthetics, the organization has made bad hire after bad hire. They have ignored the offensive side of the ball forever. And now, after finally drafting a quarterback with a top pick in Mitch Trubisky, they are doing the best job they can to ruin him.
There have been other bad owners in the city. The Wrigley family when Phil Wrigley was in charge of the Cubs was as backwards as can be with no interest in putting a competitive team on the field. The Tribune Company with their interest in profit over product was another losing venture until the Ricketts family bought the team. Of course, you know the rest of that story.
The Blackhawks were another family-owned enterprise with Arthur—and then his son, Bill Wirtz—running the show until his death. When Bill’s son Rocky took over, he understood he knew nothing about how to build a successful franchise. So he hired John McDonough to put the pieces in place. McDonough was not a hockey guy. But he knew enough to hire Stan Bowman, son of the legendary Scotty Bowman, to run the show. Three Stanley Cups later and the Hawks became another success story.
The Chicago Bulls and White Sox have been owned by Jerry Reinsdorf since the early eighties. Outside of the success of the Michael Jordan era, both franchises have been in the doldrums for years. Finally, both teams realized doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result doesn’t work.
The Sox started to rebuild just a year ago and already have the top-ranked farm system in baseball. Fans expected to abandon the club rejoiced at the thought of a bright future like the Cubs have experienced.
The Bulls decided mediocrity with no hope of ever winning a title wasn’t a plan for success. Trading Jimmy Butler started the rebuild. Plus with Kris Dunn starting to show why he was so highly-touted coming out of college, things are looking up. Lauri Markkanen, who the team drafted with the pick from Minnesota started out like gangbusters. Though, he has slowed down lately. Still, he’s a 7-footer who can shoot from distance along with putting the ball on the floor. His future looks bright.
With Zach LaVine—the final piece of the deal due back soon from his ACL injury—things are starting to look up. The two-time dunk champ’s athleticism is already showing in practice.
In addition to the three players the Bulls received, trading Butler put the Bulls in the mix for a top pick in the draft next year. They currently have the worst record in the league. So while they’re still far away, there is hope that maybe brighter days are ahead.
Unfortunately, that can’t be said for the Bears. Normally a quarterback plucked from the top of the draft accomplishes that. But even Trubisky is not exciting fans enough to attend games. Perhaps it’s the way he’s used—like he’s interchangeable with Mike Glennon or any other disposable quarterback the Bears have had in their past.
Keeping a coach playing for his job even though his job is already gone isn’t helping the process. Instead of understanding the only matter of importance left in this season is developing Trubisky, he’s still playing his conservative offense to the detriment of the kid. The Bears lack of plan or direction is frustrating even the teams’ most die-hard fans.
And the worst family in Chicago sports can’t see what’s going on. That, or they just don’t care. Or even worse, they don’t know enough to do something about it. We haven’t heard a peep out of them as the Bears continue to lose. George McCaskey is now in charge. But as long as the name is McCaskey, nothing is going to change.
How many times in life have you witnessed successful people build something, only to see their kids fritter it away when they take over? Should being blood give you entitlement? Should it keep the Bears in the family for perpetuity as Virginia McCaskey envisions? She’s seemingly going to live forever. But, do Bears fans have to live with the McCaskey’s as the stewards of their football fortunes forever?
Ownership should be a privilege, not a right. It shouldn’t be bequeathed to someone incapable of taking care of it.
The airwaves in Chicago are filled with angst for the family. Fans understand it starts at the top. It always has. When the head of the fish stinks, you have to cut it off. Changing coaches or general managers hasn’t accomplished anything.
If the McCaskey family has any decency, they will admit they have been in over their heads for years and put the team up for sale. The situation demands it. Chicago would be better off right now with an expansion franchise.
A new quarterback should bring hope. Instead it has magnified just how bad the situation is. When the fans quit caring, it’s time to move on.
I’m going with my girlfriend Sunday afternoon to a holiday concert instead of watching the game. At least I might hear some high notes I know I won’t get with the Bears.