On the NFL
March 19, 2013
PHOENIX — At the 2010 NFL meetings at the Ritz Carlton in Orlando, the Bears front office was represented in part by Chairman Michael McCaskey, President Ted Phillips, general manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith.
At the 2013 NFL annual meetings at the Arizona Biltmore, the Bears front office is being represented in part by Chairman George McCaskey, President Ted Phillips, general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman.
This is not the same franchise it was just a few years ago.
"The league is all about change," Phillips said. "If you can't embrace change and you can't evolve and you can't innovate, then you're not going to be successful. I'm proud of the direction we're headed in."
The changes in the organization have trickled down to Halas Hall, which is undergoing a $20 million-plus renovation, and the roster, which has a number of new core players.
But the changes have started at the top, with George McCaskey, Phillips, Emery and Trestman as the new stewards of the franchise.
McCaskey said he never set out to put his mark on the team his grandfather George Halas founded.
"It wasn't a pre-planned idea," he said. "It's just the way things worked out in terms of changing general managers after one season and changing head coaches after two. Putting my stamp on the organization never entered my mind."
Phillips, who started with the Bears in 1983 as controller, transcended the changes and appears positioned to transcend more changes in the future.
"The family has the utmost faith in and respect for the job Ted is doing," McCaskey said.
McCaskey shot down the notion that Phillips may be less significant to the team than he used to be as a result of McCaskey's involvement.
"We need Ted to run the ballclub," McCaskey said. "He is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the team. That's not my role. My role is to be available as a sounding board to Ted as an adviser. But Ted is the boss of the Bears. There is no change there."
Phillips, who has hired two general managers and two head coaches, clearly has staying power.
"This will be my 31st season with the team," he said. "I've seen a lot of changes. I don't look at it as surviving. I look at it as being blessed. I love the way the McCaskey family has valued my contributions. You change and hopefully get better and you learn more about your management style every time there is change."
The latest change is the hiring of Trestman. Both McCaskey and Phillips indicated they are pleased with the early results of Trestman's regime.
Phillips said he liked the way Trestman put together his coaching staff with a succession plan in place.
McCaskey said he has been impressed with the way Trestman has dealt with people. When the Bears were in the process of interviewing Trestman, McCaskey read Trestman's book "Perseverance: Life Lessons on Leadership and Teamwork." He said in his interview with Trestman, all they spoke of was Trestman's views on leadership and teamwork.
"One of the things I was very impressed with in Marc's book was his principle of servant leadership and taking care of the other guy, doing everything you can to make the guy next to you perform better," he said. "That's what we are looking for, putting the team first. It's a cliche, but it's an important ingredient for success."
McCaskey also came to appreciate Emery more when he was looking for a new coach.
"I was impressed every step of the way with his search process and evaluation process and his selection processes," he said. "The thoroughness and meticulousness was impressive, as was the depth and breadth of his search. He applies the same methods to his selection of players."
From all indications, McCaskey, Phillips, Emery and Trestman are working well together.
"The focus Phil has and his philosophy is matched with Marc's focus," Phillips said. "They have a common ground in terms of how the team should be run. Really we all have the same goals as to how the club should be run. We're united. That's not an indictment of past administrations, but it's an expression of excitement moving forward."
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