‘Go and grasp it:' Warren is right man at right time for Bears


LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Tuesday was a massive day for the Bears franchise and its future. For years, people have asked for one of the NFL's marquee franchises to get serious about building a winner. To change the dynamic in the building. To grow up.

In announcing Kevin Warren as the team's new president and CEO, the Bears finally got an adult in the room.

While the Bears hired Warren, it's clear the now-former Big Ten commissioner chose them just as much as they chose him.

"I think the thing that was most attractive was the fact of the challenge," Warren said Tuesday at his introductory press conference. "I’m a big believer in challenges, and I wouldn’t want it if it were easy. If all the elements were in place, it wouldn’t have been as attractive. But the main thing is the challenge. And I believe in every organization, there are certain inflection points. I think the Chicago Bears are that point from a positive standpoint. We have so many positive things. I never look at the negatives. There is no such thing as a negative situation. There is only opportunities.

"I always want to have something where you get out of the bed in the morning that you say there is too much to do. Because with that, what I’ve learned in my life, that’s when I know I’m in my sweet spot and that’s when I know I have to really have to rely on my relationship with God and prayer and faith and to work hard and come together. And so if things had been in place here, totally, I wouldn’t have been as attracted."

Warren looked down the well, perhaps the deepest and darkest in the NFL, and saw opportunity. He saw a chance to come in and be the one to lead the Bears into a pivotal moment for the franchise.

Viewed as an innovative executive with big-picture ideas, unmatched energy, and a fearlessness that sparks change.

That has all been needed around Halas Hall for quite some time.

"To bring a heightened degree of energy, a focus, to create an environment where people know they can be themselves from a family standpoint, but thrive — make it OK to talk about winning a championship," Warren said about what he'll bring to the franchise. "So many times, people in organizations don’t want to talk about winning a championship. I want to talk about it. But not only talk about it, but then put in the work to be able to do what we need to do to win a championship.

"All you have to do is look at the playoffs. It’s wide open. Especially in the NFC, anyone can win. And so I’m a big believer that we need to continually build upon the base that [general manager Ryan Poles] and [coach Matt Eberflus] have built, with the players and the approach and the scouting to do it the right way. I’m not interested in building something that lasts for a year then goes away. … So there’s a lot to do. It’s exciting. It’s a challenge. Many people, this may cause them to be fearful of this, but again when you have these opportunities, especially here with the iconic nature of this franchise, it just fits. It fit my personality, my DNA and I’m looking forward to it."

For as long as they have been a franchise, the Bears operated in their own small universe. They kept things in house and in the family.

Things stagnated. Energy waned.

But the second Warren entered Halas Hall and took the podium Tuesday, things started to look different.

"The whole idea is to have fresh and new ideas," Bears chairman George McCaskey said. "But I don't think he feels differently than the rest of the people in this building. We all want to win. We want championships. Kevin mentioned it half a dozen times if he mentioned it once. We want more trophies in the lobby. We want to bring championships to Bears fans."

When outgoing president Ted Phillips announced his retirement in September, it allowed McCaskey to bring the Bears into a new era. An opportunity, should he land the right successor, to start playing in the deep end of the pond.

Warren, who has experience in NFL front offices and shifted the landscape of college football as Big Ten commissioner, checks all the boxes. He'll shake things up immediately. He'll elevate the standard. Because guys like Kevin Warren can't be bothered with nonsense, laziness, incompetence, or indifference. They set goals and run through walls to achieve them.

Then, they do it again.

Warren's first day as Bears president was flawless. A victory for a franchise that has lagged behind for far too long.

Warren said he never contacted anyone about the job, believing that if the Bears came to him, it was meant to be.

Sure enough, Warren was on the Bears' initial list and the list of the search firm they employed. His resume speaks for itself. So do his results.

He has climbed the ladder of the sports world by being meticulous, methodical, hungry, and with sheer force of will.

Warren has a Super Bowl ring from his time with the then-St. Louis Rams. He mentioned it several times Tuesday, setting the bar at trophies, plural, and no lower. He was integral in getting U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota built. He rolled into the Pac-12 through the backdoor and poached USC and UCLA, seismically shifting the college sports universe.

There's no telling how long Kevin Warren will be the head of the snake for the Bears. He undoubtedly has bigger ambitions and other goals.

But he's the right man for this franchise at the right time.

Whether it be in business or sports, everything flows from the top. If the person leading lacks vision or desire, isn't prepared, is unwilling to change, or is undisciplined, that will bleed into every arm of the operation.

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With Warren, the Bears have a true tone-setter. A man known for swinging big and getting things done.

That he chose the Bears signals a new day for a franchise that has been waiting for this dawn for far too long.

"That's why I'm here," Warren said. "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. This is a special time in the NFL, but most of all, it's a special time for the Chicago Bears.

"Everything is ahead of us. All we need to do now is go and grasp it, put in the time and energy and effort."

After years of fans and media members asking for change atop the organization, the Bears sold themselves to Kevin Warren and grew up in the process.

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