O'Donnell: No bye week for McCaskey and Phillips regarding Arlington Park, Pace, Nagy

  • Bears president Ted Phillips, left, and chairman George McCaskey could have a busy bye week.

    Bears president Ted Phillips, left, and chairman George McCaskey could have a busy bye week. Associated Press

Updated 11/10/2021 3:03 PM

WITH THE BEARS IN A WELCOME BYE WEEK, the primary hope is that George McCaskey and Ted Phillips are keenly adept at multi-tasking.

Two tasks loom far higher than anything else on the executive chalkboard at Halas Hall.


Item No. 1 is to continue to make progress of the $197.2M real estate deal that could bring about the new George S. Halas Stadium at Arlington Park.

At its core, that maneuver is very simple: The Bears issue a check for $197.2M and Bunker Bill Carstanjen and his band of gaming gypsies from Churchill Downs Inc. cash it.

It's not written anywhere that the Bears couldn't purchase the 326 acres and sell them somewhere down the line to a new developer for an even "higher and better purpose" because of "a change in economic climate."

That new climate could come about if the Bears are presented with a "higher and better" cost-effective alternative more in sync with the team's roots.

AND NOW THERE ARE heightened indications that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has enlisted emissaries of at least one dealmaker far more adroit than Her Honor in an attempt to keep the Bears within city limits.

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That threat is said to becoming more clear and present in the deeper catacombs of wherever shrewd deals are concocted in the city of Chicago and county of Cook.

Most plausibly, it is said to include land, civic acquiescence and all of the degrees of independence that has made Arlington Park such a beckoning dream space for the Bears.

It would also go yards in assisting Lightfoot in pursuing a critical item of agenda involving revitalization of an area of Chicago that needs a visioned upgrade.

ITEM No. 2 IN LAKE FOREST is of a more snappy nature.

Hopefully, McCaskey and Phillips have discreetly begun their search for a new general manager and head coach.


And that this time around, they will handle it as wiser NFL men than ever.

There's no further point in postponing the inevitable regarding Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy.

In fact, a Bears realist could argue that the best thing that could happen to the organization would be eight straight losses out of the bye week and a 3-14 finish to the 2021 season.

Then there would be no wiggle room left in the conversation. The desperadoes would have no close.

A CRITICAL POINT OF RISK/REWARD has also been reached regarding Justin Fields.

Yes, certainly he'll benefit from safe, continued playing time.

But does such a thing exist in the NFL?

Safe? Every snap he takes invites disaster, especially behind the unpredictable offensive line Pace and fate have handed Nagy.

Additionally, is that risk worth it if Fields is merely playing out a yo-yo in a system he won't be playing in next season?

What magical number would make the McCaskey/Phillips-Pace-Nagy vertical shut the keenly talented rookie down?

3-8? 4-9? Gulp -- 5-10?

All suggest some degree of folly. Some would argue 3-6 is already folly.

SO IT IS INDEED time for multi-tasking at Halas Hall.

And the twilight prayer of the committed Bears fan would include a petition that McCaskey and Phillips act with the same new-age assertiveness that they did in making the telling June announcement of their bid on the Arlington Park acreage.

From 1920 Football Drive in Lake Forest to 2200 W. Euclid Ave. in Arlington Heights, it's not a time for little boys in short pants.

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Tucked among the 70 D-I games that opened the 2021-22 season Tuesday: Rookie head coach Rashon Burno and Northern Illinois beat Washington 71-64. The DePaul-spawned Burno got his coaching start at Aurora's Marmion Academy and later was an assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida. ...

Nice numbers for Aidan O'Connell (Stevenson High Class of '17) during Purdue's 40-29 upset of No. 3 Michigan State -- 40-for-54, 536 yards, 3 TDs. The Boilermakers (6-3) are unbeaten when the one-time walk-on doesn't throw a pick. ...

Pot-stirring Stephen A. Smith should check his regional channeling. During an anti-Scottie Pippen ramble, ESPN's young George Jefferson said: "WGN wouldn't exist if not for Michael Jordan." (WGN-AM signed on in 1924, WGN-TV in 1948; Jordan was born in 1963.) ...

And Barry Schutman, on news that Jed Hoyer hired Greg Brown as the Cubs new hitting coach: "First, don't you need hitters to coach?"

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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