Twenty-nine years of watching a Chicago Bears team run by the McCaskey family has lulled me into never expecting bold moves.
Michael McCaskey took over as president of the team following the death of his Grandfather George Halas in 1983 (as season in which the team finished 8-8 I might add with a smile). Michael went on to fire successful General Manager Jerry Vainisi three seasons later, then ran the team (into the ground) as a Jerry Jones-style GM from 1997-1998. As bad as his first coaching hire in Dave Wannstedt turned out, we must give McCaskey credit for hiring the hottest coach on the market. Then in 1999, Michael hired the safest rather than the most bold in fellow Yalie Dick Jauron.
With the exception of trading for Jay Cutler and signing Julius Peppers to a lucrative free agent contract, the Bears organization has been all about safe, non-controversial, slow, cautious moves.
Thus my jaw nearly hit the keyboard today when I read that GM Jerry Angelo has been fired after running the team for 11 seasons. The fact that Angelo will have to be paid two more years’ salary makes the move even more shocking.
I don’t blame Lovie Smith for the dropoff that led to a 1-5 finish to the 2011 Chicago Bears season, but I had to admit I was tantalized there for a minute thinking the Bears would be in the position to bring in a president and GM like Bill Polian and his son Chris, along with a new head coach and an offensive-oriented system. But shortly later it was announced that Smith is safe. Which should lead us to wonder if this was a power play started and won by Smith, whom the McCaskey family adores.
And going a step further, while I will think positively about this, is it a stretch for justifiably cynical Bears fans to think of the negative possibilities? Could new Chairman of the Board George McCaskey be doing this to take over as defacto GM as his brother did in 1983? Has George developed an affinity for Tim Ruskell and will simply hand the reins to him?
God help us-I do trust they will make the right decision here. But 29 years of history cannot simply be ignored.