Today’s news of Jerry Angelo’s termination as Chicago Bears’ General Manager shocked Chicago football fans. We expected a shake-up, possibly starting with the flailing Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz. We may have even accepted a housecleaning starting with the entire coaching staff. But Jerry Angelo’s end came as a curious surprise. It could possibly be because Angelo has done such a great job of blending into the woodwork at Halas Hall, or because we seldom think of the GM position in terms of how it translates to the field on game day.
I recall my days on the sidelines with the Bears (99-02), I was there when Angelo was first hired as GM and Ted Phillips ran things, now “those were the days my friends”. Dismal days they were. Under Phillips, and with Dick Jauron as Head Coach, had it not been for the relentless pursuit of the Detroit Lions to amuse NFL fans as the crappiest team in professional football, the Bears would have had the honor.
The first time I met Jerry Angelo, it was in the fall of 01 at Soldier Field, and it was the first preseason football game against the Cincinnati Bengals (coincidentally the Bears won 16-13). Mr. Angelo walked the sideline, side-by-side, with me (or me with him, however you care to view it), and he made idle chitchat for about a minute. Mr. Angelo inquired, “So how long you been working for us.” I said, “About a year now.” To which Mr. Angelo responded, “So what do you think of the team this year.” I hesitated. I thought, why would this all-important GM give a rats-ass about what some lowly creature, a mere employee and an avid fan, cared about the team? I responded, “Looks pretty good now that we have that kid out of New Mexico, Brian Urlacher… he really adds depth to the defense and a whole new dimension to the game… that’s something the Bears haven’t had since the 80’s.” Mr. Angelo stopped walking. He turned to face me. He gave a piercing stare, as though he were looking through me. He closed his left eye in sort of a half-wink, as his lip cracked a half-contorted jeer of displeasure. Then he abruptly turned and walked away.
I knew I had just overstepped the bounds, but I was just a bit confused. If Mr. Angelo did not want my opinion, then why did he solicit it? Well, bygones are bygones and there is no love lost between Mr. Angelo and myself. I am just grateful he did not feel threatened enough to have me placed on the list of individuals “not to be allowed near Halas Hall or Soldier Field”, and yes, such a list does exist. From that day forward, each time I ran into Mr. Angelo, be it at Soldier Field or at Halas Hall, and it was many times over the next year, he avoided me at all cost, he even avoided eye contact.
It is no doubt that under the rule of Angelo, the Bears have had a better record than the Phillips monarchy. Under Angelo, the Bears have some great players, such as Urlacher, Briggs, Peppers, Cutler, and Forte. However, we have also picked up some, let’s just say subpar shoddy worthless empty promises to which I will allow those inferior (Lovie Smith) prospects (Lovie Smith) remain incognito (Lovie Smith). Hey, did somebody say Lovie Smith?
Let’s look at the coach’s position since it has been mentioned. Owner, GM and Coach Papa Bear George Halas His successors, which he handpicked, Ralph Jones then head Coach Heartly Hunk Anderson and his co-Head Coach Luke Johnsos, were all fire pissing nail spitting beast from an era of hard leather no-holds-barred football. Since those days, there has been only one Head Coach with the tenacity to drive a team of young men on the gridiron to accomplish feats of greatness—the incomparable Mike Ditka, “Da Coach!” By the way, Papa Bears regime and Da Coach’s regime were the only terms of coaching which led the Bears into winning Superbowl victories.
Lovie Smith is not “Da Coach!” He will never compare with “Da Coach!” Lovie’s mild-mannered subdued mechanical expressions and his unwillingness to spark an NFL team with much needed emotion and drive, once seen as a strength by his peers in the league, is nothing more than a hindrance.
Now that the Chicago Bears head office is making some much-needed changes, as they say, when there is an avalanche the snow (or mud or whatever matter you wish to place at the top) must role downhill. Angelo’s dismissal is only the start of could be a new era in Chicago Bears future toward a successful 2012 season. Stop dragging your feet. We (the fans) would like the security of a championship team. Chicago is a championship city. First things first, sign Forte’s contract and give Chicago a number one running back. Get rid of the dead weight on the bench, and get a top-rated back-up quarterback. Finally, hire a head coach with some enthusiasm for the game!