How Warren Works, Cunningham Conundrum, Ex-Bear Factor, Playoff Memories, and Other Bears Bullets

CubsCon has been a little bit newsier than I remember it being in the past. As Brett mentioned in Cubs Bullets, Mark Grace and Shawon Dunston are going into the Cubs Hall of Fame. I liked Grace growing up, but my mother and grandmother loved him. He was their favorite player for a long time. And part of me wishes they were around for enshrinement festivities. Also: Ryne Sandberg is getting a statue. The greatest second baseman in franchise history deserves that much.

As for me, I had my best night in a long time thanks to friends:

Let’s talk football, shall we?

  • Yours truly is a bag of mixed emotions right now (what else is new, eh?) as I think about Bears Assistant GM Ian Cunningham’s situation with his interviewing (or having interviewed) for GM jobs. On the one hand, I’m happy that he is getting interviews for vacant general manager jobs. Cunningham has been a fast riser in the game and I thought GM Ryan Poles did well in bringing him on board as quickly as he did. But on the other hand, I’d hate for the Bears to lose him after just one year. And to lose him before this team embarks on an offseason in which it has the first overall pick and more than $100 million in cap space would make for unfortunate timing from a Bears-centric perspective. If I had a third hand, I’d be juggling all of this in such an odd way. I mean, where’d I get a third hand from?
  • Losing Cunningham would be categorized as a first-world NFL problem. Having employees other teams want to hire away is a good problem to have. Selfishly, my hope is that Cunningham interviews well, passes on the gigs that are currently open, and continues to aid in the Bears’ rebuild. And then next year, he goes back into interviews with a résumé that includes his assisting Chicago’s football team from having the No. 1 overall pick to being competitive and perhaps even building a playoff team. Think about it. If Cunningham sticks around and the Bears follow the Jaguars’ plan in going from having the first pick to having a winning season and making the playoffs, then his résumé will likely go to the top of lists next year.
  • Although, we must admit that Cunningham already getting GM consideration speaks well of Cunningham (for his work) and Poles (for his eye to bring in quality assistants to work with him).
  • Some perspective from someone who has a lengthy history with Cunningham:
  • You gotta love reading tweets like the one above. Go get ’em, Ian.
  • The new guy showed up on Friday:
  • Adam Jahns (The Athletic) has another good read on new Bears President Kevin Warren. This particular piece features an interview with former Vikings executive Rick Spielman, who dished on what it was like working with Warren. This section caught my attention:
  • Warren had a stadium to build — he was involved in every single aspect of it — but was still very interested in how he could help Spielman. With Warren, the Vikings also built a 277,000-square-foot practice facility, the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, in Eagan, Minn. It cost $120 million. It opened in June 2018.

    “You have your base, building blocks of your systems in place,” Spielman said. “But he was just curious as I was on, ‘What can we do outside the box that may give us a competitive advantage within the rules? Is there anything out there — anything that we can be doing differently that maybe someone else isn’t doing that can help us get a competitive advantage?’

    “We would look at different ways from analytics, how we were doing things, how he was doing analytics on the business side. And there’s just so much crossover. I think it’s critical that you have that kind of relationship in the building.”

  • Sure, one of Warren’s primary responsibilities is to deliver on the Arlington Heights stadium project. But that won’t be his only responsibility. Warren is going to oversee the entire organization. Fresh eyes on old problems are never a bad thing.
  • A happy Bears memory:
  • This was definitely one of those “I remember where I was” games. Carbondale. First college apartment. Watching in the living room. Never thinking there was a doubt they’d win this game (even though it went into OT). I can’t wait to experience those emotions while watching the NFL playoffs again.
  • Speaking of playoffs, Alyssa Barbieri (BearsWire) highlights the 25 ex-Bears on NFL teams playing on wild-card weekend. I didn’t realize how many former Bears went west to play for the Seahawks. Even with Marquise Goodwin on IR, Seattle has defensive backs Artie Burns, Teez Tabor, and Xavier Crawford, as well as edge rusher Bruce Irvin. Does anyone know if famed Chicago columnist Mike Royko did an Ex-Bears Factor (like the Ex-Cub Factor he once made famous)? Ah, well, nevertheless, it’ll be fun to watch Khalil Mack get after the quarterback this weekend.
  • There are plans in place to get together with friends today. I’ll pitch them on an ex-Bears parlay (for entertainment purposes only).
  • I bet Santa put a bunch of Justin Fields jerseys under Christmas trees last month:
  • Drama is building up in Baltimore like another season of The Wire is cooking:
  • It’ll be fascinating to watch the Lamar Jackson situation unfold with the Ravens.
  • Giveaway alert from our BN NFL wing!
  • Looking forward to Super Wild Card Weekend. Patrick has you covered in previewing this weekend’s matchups.
  • “Coach” Brent Seabrook just blows my mind. Feels like it was just yesterday he was leading the Blackhawks to championship glory:
  • The Bulls losing by double digits to the Thunder is a rough look. Especially after their recent run when it was looking like they were rebounding. But this team just doesn’t get it. (BN Bulls)
  • written by

    Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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