New ‘Name to Watch’ Gaining Steam as Next Bears President

Ted Phillips

Getty Who will succeed Ted Phillips as the next Bears President?

After longtime Chicago Bears CEO and President Ted Phillips announced his impending retirement, naturally, the speculation began about who his potential replacement might be.

Phillips, who has been with the Bears organization in some capacity since 1983, has been team President for 23 years and will step down at the end of the 2022 season.

One of the top insiders covering the team, Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog — who was the first to report that Phillips was planning to retire back in January — has weighed in on a few of the top candidates who have been rumored to be possible replacements.

Hughes noted that he doesn’t think it’ll be Cliff Stein, Chicago’s current Senior Vice President and General Counsel. Stein is in charge of player contracts and the team’s salary cap, and he was named by insider Dan Pompei of The Athletic as an in-house candidate to keep an eye on.

Hughes on Trace Armstrong: ‘I Don’t Think He’s Interested’

Hughes also had some thoughts on the candidacy of NFL agent and former Bears defensive lineman Trace Armstrong, who played for Chicago from 1989 until 1994. Armstrong is the agent of both Bears general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus and has been a trusted acquaintance of team Chairman George McCaskey in the past.

Some fans and analysts immediately called for Armstrong to succeed Phillips, but Hughes doesn’t think Armstrong wants the gig.

“When it comes to next Bears president I don’t believe it’ll be an in-house hire like Cliff Stein,” Hughes tweeted on September 6. “And while I believe Trace Armstrong is someone on the Bears wish list, I don’t think he’s interested.”

Hughes then listed one “name to watch”: current Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Commissioner Jim Phillips.

Jim Phillips: Background & Resumé

Phillips, a Chicago native with strong Illinois ties, has been working in college football in varying capacities for over 30 years. He served as senior associate director of athletics for external affairs at the University of Notre Dame from 2000-04 before working as the athletic director at Northern Illinois University from 2004 to 2008. He also held the AD role at the University of Northwestern from 2008 to 2021.

He was hired as commissioner of the ACC in 2021, a role he currently still holds.

Considering Phillips just got the job as ACC commish last year, one fan on Twitter wrote he may not want to leave a position he was just hired for. According to Hughes, that won’t be a problem:

It’s far too early to make any conclusions about Chicago’s next team President, but Phillips’ name seems to be gaining a bit of steam. Insider Chris Emma of 670 The Score also listed Phillips as someone to keep an eye on, so he certainly looks to be a top potential candidate, at least early on.

Additionally, Phillips was named the inaugural chair of the NCAA Division I Council in 2015 and he was also the first sitting athletic director on the NCAA Board of Directors and Board of Governors.

He also “twice served as a member of the Rose Bowl Management Committee and was honored as the 2018 Sports Business Journal Athletic Director of the Year for his leadership at Northwestern,” per the ACC’s official website.

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