(For the record, I’m not taking the “Clown College” comment from WSCR’s recent constant use of the phrase. Commenter “Grabber” and I have been calling the Bears organization a Clown College for at least a decade).
Even better than thinking of a slide whistle sound, please play some theme music in the background.
Clown College Moment 1999: Bears President Michael McCaskey, in his watershed moments after 16 years of dismantling a winning organization, fires Dave Wannstedt, his self-appointed successor to Mike Ditka. McCaskey announces that his personnel VP Mark Hatley will begin a candidate search and bring him finalists. After several weeks, after head coaches such as Brian Billick and Andy Reid were hired, McCaskey decided to hire former Bears assistant Dave McGinnis. (This was after-get this-the Bears asked for permission to hire Jets defensive coordinator Bill Belichick but didn’t interview him!) And according to John Mullin in one of his books, Hatley threatened to resign if McCaskey followed through on his desire to hire Packers offensive coordinator Sherm Lewis. As the story goes, McCaskey announced the McGinnis hiring before the coach had accepted, McGinnis flew back to Arizona, and McCaskey was relieved of his title a short time later.
Clown College Moment 1999: Hatley calls first-round draft pick Cade McNown “a special guy.”
Clown College Moment 2001: Bears President Ted Phillips, who had succeeded McCaskey, takes the podium with Hatley to explain a “mutual parting of the ways.” Hatley goes on to work for the Green Bay Packers until his untimely death from a heart attack. This move comes just weeks after Hatley had engineered the Bears’ 2001 draft. During the press conference, Phillips looks defensive and nervous and his pores resembled Richard Nixon’s as he angrily denies a reporter’s claim that his organization is “in disarray.” In the same press conference, Phillips announces that the Bears would hire an executive search firm to assist with finding a general manager for the team. The new general manager will report to Phillips and McCaskey.
Clown College Moment 2001: Jerry Angelo is announced as the team’s new GM, rocking back and forth on the podium in a strange press conference to discuss his arrival. Some of his first words were that he has no cliches’ in his vocabulary. Then he goes on to utter clichĂ© after clichĂ© not only throughout this press conference but in every press conference he would lead throughout his tenure.
Clown College Moment 2002: Angelo has two key players that are entering restricted free agency, meaning the Bears own their rights for one more year. Meaning other teams can sign the player and the Bears can match or receive draft pick compensation. That is, as long as on paperwork that is faxed to the league, a box is checked indicating the Bears request compensation if they don’t match an offer. Angelo and/or his staff do not check the boxes requesting compensation next to LB Warrick Holdman or WR D’Wayne Bates. Bates and Holdman become unrestricted free agents; the Bears pay more for Holdman to retain him than they would have had to had processes been followed.
Clown College Moment 2004: Angelo fires head coach Dick Jauron and lasers in on hiring LSU coach Nick Saban as his next coach. Saban refuses to work for Angelo without personnel control. Angelo searches the country from coast to coast, reportedly offering the job to college coaches Jeff Tedford and Kirk Ferentz, who refuse. Lovie Smith and Pittsburgh assistant Russ Grimm are finalists. We know how this ends.
Clown College Moment 2007: The Bears hold a press conference to announce contract extensions for Phillips, Angelo and Smith following their Super Bowl 41 loss. Later, Smith has a panel discussion with the Chicago media admonishing them that they must trust all of his decisions.
Clown College Moment 2009: Phillips, Angelo and Smith hold a confusing press conference announcing the dismissal of the offensive coaching staff. Mike Martz becomes the Bears’ next offensive coordinator after several others refuse the job.
Clown College Moment 2011: Angelo works out a trade with the Baltimore Ravens to move to the 26th pick from the 29th so the Bears can select Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi. Angelo and/or his staff falter in reporting the trade to the NFL. Thus the Kansas City Chiefs leapfrog the Ravens. The Ravens then select, as does New Orleans, leaving the Bears with Carimi after all. Baltimore appeals to the NFL asking for the Bears to cough up the originally agreed upon compensation: the Bears’ fourth-round pick. Angelo refuses, and Baltimore’s ownership blasts Angelo throughout the NFL, advising other teams to not deal with the Bears.
Turning the corner 2011: While we still had to watch both Chairman of the Board George McCaskey and CEO Ted Phillips talk about it, the Bears announce that they have fired Angelo. They hire Kansas City scouting director Phil Emery as their new GM. Emery goes on to trade two third-round picks for receiver Brandon Marshall, who in one season re-writes the Bears’ record books.
Professionals in 2012?: The Bears swiftly dismiss Smith just one day after the end of a season in which the Bears didn’t make the playoffs, for the fifth time in six years. The following day, Emery alone speaks to the press to explain the move. No McCaskey or Phillips needed.
I think we’re on to something?