I try not to put too much stock in winning the press conference. However, we as Bears fans, know what it looks like when the guys in charge lose the presser. At best, it is ugly. And at worse, it is downright embarrassing.
The Chicago Bears’ press conference introducing President Kevin Warren felt different. There was a notable difference between how Warren was carrying himself throughout the press conference and how Ted Phillips did when he was in that position. There was a functional professionalism from Warren, who spoke concisely while coming off as someone who had a purpose and vision.
I’ve highlighted some of my favorite quotes from Warren’s first press conference as president. And as an additional bonus, I’ve even chipped in with some commentary for depth and context. Enjoy!
Why Chicago? Why Now?
This was a mission statement that made me want to run through a wall:
“Many people have asked me ‘why the Bears?’ ‘Why this time?’ It’s because of the challenge, the opportunity. I trust Ryan (Poles), I trust Coach Matt (Eberflus) that we’re going to do things the right way. We’re not going to take shortcuts. We’re going to build an incredible franchise. I came here to win championships. To win the NFC North, to win the NFC, to win the Super Bowl. To help shepherd 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. … We will continue to do it the right way. We will work hard, we will have fun, we will be diligent, we will be detailed, we will be methodical. We’ll operate with integrity and honor at every step of the way.”
The best is yet to come for the Bears. It might start with the on-the-field stuff that is on the horizon. Owning the first overall pick is a wonderful place to begin this year’s portion of the rebuilding process. As is having more than $100 million in available cap space right now. But that is just the tip of the iceberg for this organization. Warren’s hire puts Chicago’s football team in a position to modernize in a way it never has in the past. This is a turning point moment for the Bears. And it sounds like Warren is ready to rock and roll.
Warren the Trailblazer
Warren joins the Bears as the team’s first Black President/CEO. It is a groundbreaking hire in that regard. But it also put into focus that this franchise was led by a Black president, Black general manager, and Black quarterback. The Bears haven’t always been the most inclusive franchise. And to some extent, it is understandable. This organization has been under family control since its inception and hasn’t branched out in ways which it was conducive to creating an environment that put importance on diversity, equality, equity, and inclusion.
With that being said, Warren re-telling the story of his travels with Big Ten student-athletes to a trip to Alabama on a historical experience to Selma and Montgomery that was an important moment in the Civil Rights movement had me wowed (as transcribed by Gabby Hajduk of the Bears’ official website):
“I got up on the bus and asked people, ‘what are you willing to walk 54 miles for?” Warren said. “They walked 54 miles just to have an opportunity to vote. And they were white people, Black people, all kinds of from different backgrounds, Jewish people, Christians, Muslims. It was all kinds of people.
“What that says to me, you’ve got to be dedicated. And they didn’t walk — it was not a nature walk. They walked with dress shoes and high heels, slept on the road and all those different things. I ask myself every day, ‘what am I willing to walk 54 miles for?’ I’ll tell you one thing I’m willing to walk 54 miles for is the Chicago Bears, and when you get a group of people together who are willing to do that, it’s important, and that’s what we can learn from diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Some Really Good Life Advice
Hey, now! It doesn’t have to always be about football. Hearing Warren say this gave me some good perspective. And I can’t imagine I was the only one who felt this way:
“Just do your best. Leave a place better than it was when you went there. No matter what you’re doing. So if you’re a lifeguard, be the best lifeguard. … Just lean into it. And that’s just how I approach life. Whatever you’re doing be passionate about it. If you’re passionate, you have attention to detail, you have a heart of gratitude, you’re thankful, and you recognize that every day is a gift from God you’re going to do some special stuff together. So that’s what I’m focused on.”
You can watch Warren’s entire press conference here:
- This was my personal favorite quote from Warren’s press conference:
- Considering some of the things I’ve shared publicly in this space and other social media spaces, this one hit close to home. Those words weren’t just applicable to Warren bouncing back from a major childhood accident. Instead, those words are applicable in all sorts of different walks of life. That quote should resonate with players, executives, and everyone else.
- “This is the best NFL football city in the country.” Darn right, Mr. Warren. And don’t you let anyone forget it!
- Between Warren, GM Ryan Poles, and Head Coach Matt Eberflus, the Bears are really hammering home the importance of good football culture from the top on down.
- It might have you wanting to call the Bears a culture club. Do you really want to hurt me, Bears? (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself with my brain being in a musical state in recent days).
- This quote reminds me of Theo Epstein joining the Cubs knowing that he had a lot of heavy lifting to do:
- I’m not sure if being the president of an NFL franchise can have the same impact as being a president of a team in MLB. Those are two very different gigs. However, Warren can really put his fingerprints all over a new-and-improved Bears organization if he plays his cards right.
- OK, I’ve said it before (so I’ll say it again): Sometimes, the best things in life are well-timed and inexplicable. Perhaps Warren’s hiring is as serendipitous as this anecdote makes it seem:
- It felt good knowing that there is no residual beef between Warren and QB Justin Fields stemming from their time in the Big Ten.
- Leaving on a high note: