For the first time in 21 years, the conversation around the Chicago Bears team president Ted Phillips has gotten serious. There are rumblings George McCaskey is considering a shakeup to the power structure. After his first decade running the organization, it’s becoming clear to the chairman that what they’ve been doing isn’t working. Phillips took over his position in 1999. Since then the Bears have made the playoffs six times.
People can argue he only focuses on the business side of these yet facts are facts. The man has been involved in every major decision the team has made over that span. Especially the hiring of each new GM and head coach. Nobody is denying Phillips’ business acumen. It speaks for itself. Yet the NFL has to be about winning. The Bears haven’t done nearly enough of that under his watch.
That is why changes could be looming.
Rumors are Phillips would be reassigned to another position inside the organization. This would pave the way for McCaskey to put somebody else in charge. Either as team president or the president of football operations. Whatever the title ends up being, the idea would be finding that elusive “czar” who could set the blueprint for how to build this organization properly. Somebody who has a football background.
There are plenty of names out there who could make sense. Current agent Trace Armstrong played for the Bears in the 1990s and has a deep business background. Omar Khan runs the football and business administration for the Steelers and has connections in Chicago. The list goes on. Yet none of those names feel like they could truly be ground-shaking. A genuine splash.
To get that, they need to find a way to land Peyton Manning.
Chicago Bears have every reason to court Manning
The credibility the man brings is hard to argue. Perhaps the greatest quarterback in NFL history. A Hall of Famer who retired with every record in the books and two Super Bowl rings. He built a legacy on a tireless work ethic and a competitive streak few could ever match. Nobody refused to lose more than he did. It was unacceptable. If he felt teammates weren’t as committed to the pursuit as him, he’d tell them to find a spot on the bench.
That is the sort of mentality this organization needs. Nobody lives and breaths football like Manning does. Most feel it’s only a matter of time before he takes over an organization. It would have to be the right situation where he has complete control of operations. Some even think he wouldn’t do it without some sort of ownership stake involved. That isn’t clear but belief is a strong enough offer could sway him.
So what about total control of the Chicago Bears?
McCaskey could offer him the team president role with all the power that comes with it. The franchise would be his canvas and he could paint whatever he wishes on it. No interference from anybody else. Everything from the front office to the coaching staff to the roster would be his decision. Nobody has had that kind of power at Halas Hall before. Manning is somebody who would know what to do with it.
Can the ownership convince him is the big question. The 44-year old seems pretty comfortable in his job at ESPN, being a tape analyst and interviewer. It would take a hell of a sales pitch. Still, Manning might have some sentimental ties to the organization. He got to know Virginia McCaskey earlier this year. His father Archie also had a close bond with Bears legend Walter Payton. The running back even once kidnapped a four-year-old Manning at the 1979 Pro Bowl to go sailing on a catamaran.
Maybe elevating the Chicago Bears back to the top of the NFL is the sort of challenge a football historian like Manning would embrace. The team should at least give it a try.