The Chicago Bears feel like a team on the cusp of big changes. With six games left in the 2020 season, the team is 5-5. This after starting the year 5-1. Their playoff hopes are fading away. The offense is one of the worst in franchise history. A time-honored tradition. Inevitably a lot of fingers are being pointed at the two men at the top in GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy.
Unless things turn around in a big way down the stretch, it feels like both men could be gone once the season ends. Thus the cycle will begin again. The Bears trying to find that right formula of decision-makers who can finally put this organization on the path to a championship. Considering they’ve plucked from other NFL teams for years, is it possibly time for them to think outside the box?
Maybe they should look to another sport for their guy.
Michael Wilbon of ESPN was on Pardon The Interruption. He and his co-host were discussing the recent resignation of longtime Chicago Cubs team president Theo Epstein. While many feel he didn’t achieve everything he should’ve in the nine years he ran the organization, he’ll forever be known as the architect of breaking the longest championship drought in American professional sports.
He’s built a legacy on taking long-frustrated franchises back to greatness. See also the Boston Red Sox. Wilbon believes a union of him and the Bears would be perfect. Epstein gets to embrace a new challenge while not having to leave Chicago.
Take over the Bears, Theo! You'd do a better job than the people running the team now. pic.twitter.com/sQCvBUCTDj
— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) November 17, 2020
Would the Chicago Bears be crazy doing this?
Not necessarily. While executives crossing over from one sport to another is rare, it’s not unheard of. In fact, the Cubs organization has been involved with a few such examples. Back in 1983, they hired Jim Finks as their new president and CEO. Finks had just stepped down as GM of the Bears that same year. He quickly built them into a contender and had them in the NLCS by 1984.
Years later, John McDonough was running the Cubs as team president. Then in 2007, the Chicago Blackhawks offered the same position with their own organization. He accepted. Three years later he’d helped build a roster that would go on to win three Stanley Cup titles. So this sort of idea is far from crazy. It’s a matter of interest from both sides.
Epstein is plenty smart enough to handle switching sports.
Would he want to though? Baseball is his love and he has his choice of just about any job he could want. There is some speculation he could pursue ownership of his own team. On the flip side, the Chicago Bears have shown time and again the position of team president isn’t available. Ted Phillips has kept an iron grip on that job for over two decades now and doesn’t appear inclined to give it up.
It would take a huge shift in philosophy by George McCaskey to make such a scenario happen. He’d have to dump Phillips and make a strong pitch to Epstein, granting total control of team operations. That might be enticing enough. The longtime executive loves a challenge. Still, the odds of him leaving baseball feel remote at this point.