Reporter NFC North
The Chicago Bears announced the hiring of team president Kevin Warren last week, along with the retirement of their current president, Ted Phillips. Warren has lived several lives within the industry, from being a practicing attorney to opening his own agency and representing athletes, to football administration for the Detroit Lions and as an executive with the Minnesota Vikings. Most recently, he was the commissioner of the Chicago-based Big Ten Conference.
Hiring a new team president doesn’t immediately seem like it would make a huge difference to the product on the field. Team presidents are often concerned with the business side of an NFL franchise.
They oversee ticket sales, marketing campaigns, community efforts and sponsorship deals. What they don’t often do is have the team’s general manager — and therefore the football side of the building — report them as well.
Warren, however, will. It’s a responsibility that reflects his extensive experience in player contracts at the agent and executive level.
“It’s clear to me that given Kevin’s experience with NFL clubs and his interaction with their football operations, we should go back to having the general manager report to the president and CEO,” he said. said owner George McCaskey. “Ryan Poles remains in charge of our football operation with full authority to do what he believes is best for the Bears. Ryan and Kevin spoke during our interview process, and we are confident that they and Matt will work together to give Bears fans the winner. they deserve.”
With that in mind, this statement from Warren’s introductory press conference makes a lot more sense:
“I came here to win championships, to win the NFC North, to win the NFC, to win the Super Bowl, to help pastor and lead a stadium development project, to embrace our alumni, to embrace our history and tradition and to embrace the absolutely incredible Chicago Bear fans,” he said.
That doesn’t mean Warren has control over roster decisions. McCaskey said the Poles are still in charge of the football operation. But what Warren will do is perhaps approach business decisions through a football lens.
Kevin Warren, Big Ten commissioner, will be the CEO and president of the Chicago Bears
Joel outlined why Warren’s vacant position is highly sought after and the impact it has on college football. He brought up two major changes in the Big Ten conference, including a media rights deal and two new schools.
The inner workings of an NFL front office present a variety of interesting conundrums. Many business goals depend on a product over which they have no control. Business executives don’t install game plans or trade and acquire players. But their ability to sell tickets and sponsorships depends on the team’s interest from fans, which depends on the team more often than not.
A team like the Bears is somewhat insulated from that. They are a founding franchise of the NFL and have a strong fan base. As far as I know, there is still a waiting list for season tickets. But if business decisions are focused on generating revenue and resources that can be put back into the product in the field, everything works in harmony.
Warren is quite familiar with what it takes to build an elite team. This could be as small as the amount of money to allocate to the kitchen budget or as large as a refurbishment of the facilities. It can also give rise to the intangible, creating an all-encompassing culture within the walls of Halas Hall.
“One of the things I’ve learned is when you build a championship culture, the questions and the ideal and the thought process of ‘Who has the final say?'” and all of that really becomes irrelevant, Warren said. “When we walk out of whatever room we’re in, we have a common goal.”
“The whole idea is to come up with fresh, new ideas,” McCaskey said. “But I don’t think he feels any different than the rest of the people in this building. We all want to win. We want championships. Kevin mentioned it half a dozen times if he mentioned it once. We want more trophies in the lobby. We want to bring championships to Bears fans.”
Another thing Warren knows: stadiums. He even called himself a “stadium nerd.” This stems from the fact that he helped the Minnesota Vikings build the U.S. Bank Stadium, widely considered the best of its kind throughout the league. With Warren’s hiring, the Bears have all but confirmed that they are committed to moving forward with plans to build a new stadium on the Arlington Park property.
“I think it’s going to be very critical from that standpoint,” Warren said. “I know we’re focused on Arlington Park and this stadium development project. I really want to lean into the stadium development project, but I think the most important thing we can do is make sure that we’re methodical, we’re detailed, and we take the time to plan it properly.”
Warren would not fully commit to a start date, but did offer that he and the Bears have formally discussed starting in April.
“The day I accepted the job, I started,” Warren said. “Again, I always look at what the assets are on the checkerboard, and the one in Arlington, it has some different unique factors. One is the space. There’s not many times that there are more than 300 acres in near town.”
The only question now is how exactly Warren will do it. With the detail that he and others around him talk about him, what is his day to day like? Warren also provided information there.
“I come home with a stack of written materials and I want to make sure we’re making all these touch points from a corporate partnership standpoint, so it’s not one of those — I always say I usually look at the game on Mondays because The day of the game is very busy and then I will cut and go to the game because there is so much I miss.
“But this year I’ll be focused from a football point of view, but I’ll still be focused from a business point of view, but I’m trying not to lose moments in terms of match day because it’s a special opportunity.”
That sounds like a lot. This also lends itself to the Poles still having autonomy within the world of football. One person cannot do everything, especially at a high level. But as the Bears continue to build the foundation for sustained success, a goal Warren himself also talked about, they could become more cohesive under Warren’s leadership.
“I will never ask anyone who works in this building to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself,” Warren said. “But we just have to focus on the details because if you have enough people, from the staff to the coaches, to scouts to your head coach, to your general manager, to our fans, to our players, to our ownership , to our alumni, we just get a little better in the details, specialized in the margins a little better, what you can get is really, really special.
“That’s why I’m here. We’re going to keep doing it the right way.”
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