While it appears his consultancy will be temporary, today Bill Polian is the most important man in the Chicago Bears hierarchy.
It is more than a bit strange that at every opportunity George McCaskey, and for that matter the entire McCaskey family, has promoted to its clientele that its expertise is limited when it comes to the product the it sells and business it owns, the game of football.
And it is even more curious that the family continues to seemingly blindly place its trust in a man with even less connection to, or expertise in, the product, the family’s former accountant, Ted Phillips?
To be fair, it doesn’t mean George or Ted are bad businessmen, incapable of keeping the business afloat or for that matter making boatloads of money.
They’ve actually done a pretty god job of that.
But first McCaskey told us Monday, “I’m just a fan. I’m not a football evaluator.”
Then, McCaskey had this to say in response to a question as to whether or not Matt Nagy discussed turning the starting quarterback job over to Justin Fields.
“Matt and I talked about it,” McCaskey said. “At one point he asked me what I thought and I said, ‘I’m uncomfortable that you’re even asking me the question.’”
One is left to ponder how McCaskey ever expects to build a winning team.
If that is whom he chooses to be, of course, that is his right. But how can he ever be expected to hire and or fire his top football people if he has nothing but a fan’s most often colored view of the product?
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The two most similar ownership situations in the NFL are the Rooneys in Pittsburgh, who’ve hired just three coaches in 50-plus years – Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin – and since 1991 two general managers – Tom Donahoe and Kevin Colbert – and have been among the best and most successful organizations in the NFL.
The Mara and Tisch families in New York have selected Hall of Famer George Young, Ernie Accorsi and Jerry Reese as GMs, and coaches Bill Parcells, also in Canton, and Tom Coughlin.
The reason is because Rooney and Mara children and grandchildren beyond being raised around the game studied it passionately their entire lives. Now third generations of both families, raised the same way, are waiting in the wings.
For whatever reasons none of the McCaskey children chose that path and to my knowledge there are no grandchildren currently in the pipeline either.
That is why they so desperately need Polian.
In his first year as general manager of the Bills, Polian hired future Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy and then built the teams that would go to four consecutive Super Bowls.
After a three-year hiatus from the game, Polian took over the expansion Carolina Panthers in 1995, hired 1996 NFL Coach of the Year Dom Capers and built the team that would go to the NFC title game in just its second season in existence.
In 1998 he took over the Indianapolis Colts, hired first Tony Dungy and then Jim Caldwell, who combined to lead them to eight straight playoffs, a win over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI and a Super Bowl loss to the Saints three years later.
The list of Hall of Famers and All Pros Polian identified and drafted is too long for this space.
There is simply no one else anywhere on the NFL landscape with anywhere near those credentials to match McCaskey’s self-professed lack of expertise.
While he has been retired for a decade, Polian has remained highly active and visible on the media side and as well connected as anyone in the business.
To those of you working overtime to root out the occasional misses on Polian’s Hall of Fame resume, please!
Find us perfect and then we can talk.
That is why Polian is so perfect for this task. He’s clearly the closest to it.