In addition to getting a fresh take on long-standing problems on the roster, one thing I was hoping the Bears hiring a new GM meant we’d get front office expansion.
Let’s face it. The Bears’ reputation is one of a family business that operates like a mom-and-pop shop that also happens to be a billion dollar entity. It’s small, quaint, and arguably outdated as heck. And any change is one that is probably long overdue.
But for what it’s worth, we’re beginning to see our wishes come true. It began with hiring Ian Cunningham to be the team’s Assistant General Manager. Nearly a month after creating that position, GM Ryan Poles is at it again:
We have hired Brent Salazar as our Clyde Emrich Director of High Performance. He will oversee the strength & conditioning and sport science departments and work with the athletic training staff. https://t.co/7UlmPfiWR0
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) February 15, 2022
The team announced the hiring of Brent Salazar to become the team’s first ever Clyde Emrich Director of High Performance. Not only is it a newly created position for the Bears, but one that honors a long-time coach for the franchise. Clyde Emrich, who passed away last November, was a team strength coach for 50 years. It feels right to make a new staff position and name it in Emrich’s honor, especially with Poles calling the late Emerich a “pioneer in this space.” That is one heck of a sign of respect.
“We are excited to add this key hire to our football operations staff, a newly created position to oversee, align and continue to develop our strength and conditioning and sports science to optimize player performance,” Poles said in a statement from the team. “Players maximizing their potential in preparation, on the field, in recovery and rehabilitation is critical to their overall athletic performance and ultimately team success.”
But what does a Director of High Performance do?
Well, the official release from the Bears says: “Salazar will oversee the team’s strength and conditioning and sport science departments and work with the athletic training staff with the goal of maximizing player health, safety and performance.”
I’m not hip to sports science or that realm, but am all-in on maximizing health, safety, and performance for players. Especially after a year where injuries really did a number on the team. The Bears finished with eight players on injured reserve, while six others spent time on IR before an in-season return. Injuries aren’t predictable. And it’s not as if you can send those guys out in bubble wrap and hope for the best. But what teams *CAN* do is work toward being better and healthier throughout the year. I imagine the hope is that creating a new position helps blaze a new trail toward better health moving forward.
Every little bit helps when trying to make a climb to the top of the mountain. And if the Bears see creating a new position along the way, then so be it. At minimum, this looks to be a sign that this 103-year-old franchise is modernizing. That makes this more than inconsequential addition with a fancy title. This feels pretty legit. Now, keep the hires coming!