With longtime Chicago Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips announcing his retirement effective at the end of the 2022 season, fans and analysts alike are wondering who his potential successor might be.
Bears Chairman George McCaskey told Dan Pompei of The Athletic that the team “would not identify possible candidates at this time,” but naturally, some names are already being tossed around.
The team’s current senior vice president of marketing and communications, Scott Hagel and senior vice president and legal counsel Cliff Stein, are two in-house possibilities, with Stein being an early favorite.
One team insider is encouraging the Bears to pursue an established and knowledgeable individual with a strong football background as their next President, and he floated one particularly intriguing possibility.
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Peyton’s (New) Place?
Chris Emma of 670 The Score is urging the team to look outside the walls of Halas Hall to find its next President.
“The Bears need to seek change in selecting Phillips’ replacement and put aside their sentiments for the man by acknowledging the need for better results,” Emma wrote on September 2. “McCaskey should make a hire from outside of Halas Hall as the Bears seek a bright, progressive leader.”
“Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning has been successful in both football and business,” Emma wrote. “He has been a guest at Halas Hall in the past and perhaps could be the right fit alongside McCaskey.”
Manning has come to Halas Hall to speak with Bears players before. Once, in 2017, the legendary QB was invited to a team practice by his former coach, John Fox, who was coaching the Bears at the time, and again in 2020, during quarantine, he spoke to Bears quarterbacks via Zoom. He also featured Halas Hall and spoke with team matriarch Virginia McCaskey on an episode of his series, “Peyton’s Places.”
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Manning Has Been Busy With Post-NFL Media Career
Over the last year, Manning has gained popularity serving as a commentator on NFL games with his brother Eli in the “Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli,” or the “ManningCast,” as it’s known colloquially.
Since retiring from the NFL after the 2015 season, Manning has been largely working to expand his media-based Omaha Productions company, but there were rumors he was interested in being at least a part-owner of the Broncos.
That didn’t happen — at least not yet — as Manning isn’t part of the new Broncos ownership group led by Rob Walton.
Former Colts President Bill Polian, who was part of the Bears’ five-person search committee for a new general manager in January of 2022, won a Super Bowl with Manning in Indianapolis, and he knows the Hall of Fame quarterback well. Polian has been saying for years that Manning would make an excellent football executive.
“All he would need would be a brief tutorial on the league rules and things like the general terms of trades and contract language—of which he’s also very familiar, because of his own contract,” Polian told SiriusXM NFL Radio in 2016.
Polian has been valued enough by McCaskey to help the team find new leadership before, so it’s possible McCaskey and company could use Polian as a liaison of sorts to Manning, who won two Super Bowls over his 14-year NFL career.
Manning’s resumé is miles long, and his penchant for winning is well-established. He is the only quarterback in the history of the league with seven straight seasons of 12 or more wins as a starter (from 2003–2009).
The question isn’t whether he’d make a great executive — the question is whether he’d want to be a great one for the Bears.
It’s a pipe dream, but Emma is correct. The Bears should aim high with this one — and Manning would be an ideal candidate.