Let’s stop messing around as the Bears’ 100th season has begun to resemble their 98th, 97th, 96th, 95th and so on, which is to say they look awful.
Maybe it’s time for the
family to put their birthright on the auction block.
Perhaps the heirs of NFL founding father George Halas should sell the club.
When a team musters just 9 offensive yards in a half of football en route to a fourth successive loss, it’s time for some honest introspection.
While it is an article of faith that Papa Bear’s dying wish in 1983 was for the franchise to remain in his family’s control in perpetuity when he bequeathed control to daughter Virginia McCaskey, now 96, it’s also safe to say he never wanted his team to go more than three decades without a championship.
It’s nice when word gets out that Mrs. McCaskey is angry with how the Bears are doing. Results would be even better.
This year’s 3-5 disappointment, which reminds no one of the 1985 Bears who won Super Bowl XX, seems determined to extend the title drought to 34 years while missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons.
Players, coaches and general managers have come and gone.
The owners are a constant.
It’s to the point that whenever one of the McCaskeys waxes poetic about continuing to own the team, as they are wont to do, it sounds less like a promise to fans than a threat.
“My brother Pat says that we want to own the Bears until the second coming,” Chairman George McCaskey, son of Virginia, said last winter on WSCR-AM 670. “So, that’s the goal, and we have every intention of carrying that out. We don’t know what circumstances are going to bring us to challenge that, but that’s the goal.”
Winning isn’t a bad goal, either, for what it’s worth.
It might just be time for the McCaskeys to allow someone else or some other group to take control for the good of the franchise and its fans.
At least it would be interesting to see how the Bears would fare under new stewardship.
A sale might be a sacrifice, but one that would reward them with the knowledge they’re doing the right thing, not to mention the vast sums of cash involved.
Forbes’ most recent valuation of the Bears is $3.45 billion, sixth highest in the NFL, and there’s bound to be a premium on the open market.
Even after taxes, a sale should bring in a chunk of change presumably large enough to ensure any of the McCaskeys who want to share a suite at games can do so with plenty left over for entrepreneurial ventures and charity, even if they travel to road games by private jet.
The McCaskeys then can be fans just like they’ve always been, but with one added benefit they’ve not been able to share with the face-painters and talk-show callers: They finally will be able to complain about the owners.
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You know, the people whose hired hands can’t seem to pull it all together.
Now there are some people who may argue solutions to this mess can be found far short of selling the team, like going after some of those hired hands.
Start with, say, firing coach Matt Nagy. Sure, he won coach of the year less than 12 months ago, but the guy is floundering since the end of September.
The problem with canning the coach is the McCaskeys and their underlings will then have to hire someone new.
Frankly, their track record when it comes to picking new coaches is spottier than their history of efficiently drafting young talent. Neither has yielded great results.
Since the ouster of Mike Ditka, the last coach Old Man Halas signed off on, the McCaskey Bears have been to the playoffs in just six of 26 seasons, likely 27 by the end of December.
Even the NFC North rival Lions have been to the playoffs more times (eight) in that span, though you have to go all the way back to 1991 to find their last postseason win and to ’57 for an actual title.
Maybe the Ford family, who has controlled the Lions since 1963, also should consider a sale. Are term limits out of the question in the NFL? Fifty years? Sixty? A 99-year lease?
This isn’t personal. To their credit, the McCaskeys have managed to stay out of trouble and avoid controversy, which is something one can’t always say about NFL owners.
That’s a genuine risk of a sale.
The Bears could wind up with a deep-pocketed jerk for an owner, someone who’s not just a terrible steward of the franchise but a vile human being who equates wealth with wisdom. It happens.
But last year’s flirtation with being a Super Bowl contender has come to look like an aberration if not a complete fluke.
The Halas legacy is one of excellence.
The McCaskey legacy, less so.
Heading into the franchise’s second century, there’s no greater gift they could give Bears fans than a reason for optimism.