Today, Phillips and McCaskey admitted their mistake and the fact they need help finding Emery’s replacement.
“We have spoken to a number of people around the league whose opinions we respect, including members of the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel, and we’ve hired Ernie Accorsi as a consultant to assist in the hiring of both positions,” McCaskey said today. “Ernie has a wide variety of experience and has been successful, and we feel he will provide a critical voice to our search process.”
“He’s a member of the Career Development Advisory Panel with the league,” said Philips. “There’s a number of very esteemed people with great football knowledge and experience on that panel. We’ve already consulted with several of them and felt that Ernie was a really good fit for us, understanding what the Chicago Bears are about, both from our tradition and what we need going forward.”
Accorsi began his NFL career in 1970 as the public relations director for the Baltimore Colts. He then served as assistant general manager for the Colts from 1976-1981 and then general manager from 1982-1983. In 1985 he became executive vice president of the Cleveland Browns, a post he held until 1992.
From 1994-1997, Accorsi was the assistant GM for the Giants before taking over as GM in 1998.
“I think you can never have enough expert football opinions,” Phillips said. “He's been through numerous regimes in New York. He understands coaches. He understands general managers. He was the one that hired Tom Coughlin. So between hiring Ernie and still being able to consult with other members of that panel, we think we've got a good amount of football experience that will be really important to us as we make this decision.”
Phillips was clear that, while Accorsi will aid in the vetting process, the ultimate decision on the team’s next GM and head coach will be his.“Ernie’s going to be hired just as a consultant to get us through this entire process in finding the right head coach and general manager,” Phillips said. “Ernie is going to make recommendations is the way we look at it and [the decision] ultimately on the general manager it will be George and myself.”
McCaseky said Accorsi’s history with the Bears, albeit remote, played a role in his hiring.
“I think Ted and I understand the history of the Bears,” said McCaskey. “One of the things that Ernie said right away, he was quick to say - and this is why we thought I would be such a good fit - that, at least on paper, he once worked for George Halas. When George Halas was president of the National Football Conference, Ernie was assistant to the president.
“He mentioned he was a suite mate of Brian Piccolo's at Wake Forest University. I think he gets what we're looking for. It's an appreciation of the history, the legacy of the Bears, but Ted and I have lived it. Ted, for the last 30-plus years, me for my entire life, and we feel that a collaborative effort is the best way to go.”
With Emery, both McCaskey and Phillips swung and missed. They both believe that with Accorsi now on board, the results of the upcoming search will be different.
“Bringing in an expert consultant like Ernie Accorsi I think is a huge difference,” Phillips said. “The prior process was a thorough search. We talked to a lot of people throughout the league, both current personnel folks and coaches and ex-coaches and GMs.
“I think what we have now with Ernie coming in is someone consistent who is giving us a voice on a daily basis who’s on our side and doesn’t have any other agenda to try to push their own people. Ernie is a longtime football man. He understands the tradition, the importance of football in Chicago and I think that alone is going to be a very valuable addition.”
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.