Despite coming off the worst season in franchise history, there is optimism surrounding the Chicago Bears entering this offseason.
It started when the Bears hired Kevin Warren, the now, ex-Big Ten commissioner as their new team president/CEO, to replace much-maligned Ted Phillips The hope is to bring respectability and praise that has not been associated with this franchise for a long time.
His experience and knowledge will be put to the test immediately, as the Chicago Bears are prepared to leave Chicago for Arlington Heights. Just last week, they took a step closer as they officially closed on purchasing the old Arlington International Racecourse site.
However, the stadium, which many expect to be a dome, to help attract events such as both NCAA Football and Basketball Championships, is just a centerpiece to a much larger development, which includes an entertainment complex, along with residential and office spaces around the stadium. A development that they have total control over.
The Chicago Bears have a chance to own the city if things go their way.
It would also help if the Chicago Bears start winning more games and even win a Super Bowl before they relocate. That is why this offseason is the most important in franchise history. They own the No.1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and there are multiple teams that are desperate for a quarterback. If they play their cards right, the Bears should get a decent haul. They also have almost $100 million in cap space and should be aggressive in signing multiple veterans when free agency officially begins on March 15th (March 13th marks the legal-tampering window).
The excitement Justin Fields provided as the starting quarterback in 2022 despite playing with average talent around him gave fans hope that we may finally have a franchise quarterback that the team can build around. What can he do with better protection and better receivers, who can get open and catch passes is exciting?
As the suspense and intrigue build around who the Chicago Bears will sign and draft this offseason, they can recapture the fans’ interest because the current state of the Chicago sports scene is bleak right now.
After making the playoffs last season, Chicago Bulls has been a major underachiever this season. Marred by injuries to key players like Lonzo Ball, and inconsistencies, their chance of making the playoffs looks slim. Both head coach Billy Donovan and VP of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas are as popular as when Gar Foreman and John Paxson were in charge these days.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks, who have captured the city’s attention with three Stanley Cup Titles between 2009-2015, have decided to openly tank this season, in hopes of landing the No.1 overall pick to land top prospect Connor Bedard, considered a generational talent, comparable to Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Connor McDavid.
In addition, the organization has alienated the fan base with their botched handling of former player Kyle Beach’s sexual assault allegations against then video-coach Brad Aldrich that eventually led to the resignation of then GM Stan Bowman, and former head coach Joel Quenneville, who was the head coach of the Florida Panthers at the time, tarnishing their reputations forever.
As spring training gets underway, neither Chicago baseball teams are close to being a contender. The Cubs made some splash this offseason, signing shortstop Dansby Swanson from the Atlanta Braves, and a handful of others. But owner Tom Ricketts’s popularity remains low after trading away popular stars Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez while pursuing Chelsea FC of the English Premier League, leaving much to the chagrin of the Cubs fans.
As for the White Sox, they hired Tony La Russa back in 2020 despite his DUI arrest, thanks to his friendship with the owner Jerry Reinsdorf. After winning the AL Central in 2021, they stumbled to finish at .500 and manager Tony La Russa stepped away due to several health issues and eventually retired without finishing the season.
Meanwhile, Mike Clevinger, one of their key free agent signings, is under investigation after allegations of domestic abuse against his fiancé, Olivia Finestead. Then, he threatens legal action against 670 The Score after they interviewed Finestead. It appears they have not learned anything from the whole La Russa experience.
Now, I get that the McCaskeys aren’t exactly well-liked and they don’t have a stellar reputation either. However, the stadium project alone could transform the Chicago Bears, who had long been criticized for operating like a mom-and-pop shop rather than like a billion-dollar corporation. Hiring Warren to be in charge of the Arlington Heights project could go a long way toward changing their narrative and perception of the organization.
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While the rest of Chicago’s pro sports teams stumble themselves both on and off the field, everything is aligned in favor of the Chicago Bears this offseason to build a foundation for long-term success both on and off the field and win over the city of Chicago (and Arlington Heights) for a long time.