UA-59049186-1 Welcome to Chicago: Kevin Warren, New Ted - Good if it Goes

Welcome to Chicago: Kevin Warren, New Ted

Thursday, the Bears announced that Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren will succeed Ted Phillips as President and CEO of the team. Warren first started working in the NFL in 1997 as vice president of player programs and football legal counsel for the then-St. Louis Rams, eventually being promoted to vice president of football administration. Warren left after the 2000 season and went to work for the Lions for three years as senior vice president of business operations and general counsel.

After leaving the Lions, Warren went back home to Phoenix to practice law and ended up representing the Wilf family and their group when they purchased the Vikings. Not long after, the Vikings hired Warren as executive vice president of legal affairs and chief administration officer, a role he held from 2005-2014 before being promoted to chief operations officer in 2015, where he stayed until 2019. While a part of the Vikings organization, he played a major role in the U.S. Bank Stadium project, which is certainly relevant to our current interests. In June of 2019, Warren was named Big Ten Commissioner as Jim Delany had announced that he would be retiring at the end of the year.

Warren’s tenure as Big Ten Commissioner has been a mixed bag. While the conference has fared well under his watch in terms of business opportunities, namely TV deals, and USC and UCLA announced their intent to join the conference, the Big Ten is one of the worst officiated conferences in college football and the conference’s covid plan in 2020 was a mess. Warren was the face of that mess, as the conference initially planned to play in the spring before reversing course. What Warren could have actually done in that situation is up for debate. What’s not up for debate is that it was a bad look while his son, Powers’, season at Mississippi State went on as planned in the fall. MGoBlog’s Brian Cook was not very high on Warren as Big Ten Commissioner:

“There was one thing of note that happened during his tenure and I don’t think Warren was principally responsible for the USC and UCLA additions, which seemed pretty inevitable after the SEC took Texas and Oklahoma. I contend that any person capable of being named Big Ten commissioner would have necessarily had the same business brain and come to the same business conclusion, and then he had to sell it to a bunch of people with the same brains. And… I mean… at this point fine, right? Much better than adding Rutgers and Maryland from a fan interest standpoint.”

What will change with Warren at the helm? Probably not much. He is likely to be very good at the stuff Ted was very good at, while anyone hoping this new hire means a new direction in how football operations are run is likely to be rather disappointed. This hire should make it clear that the Bears view the team president as the head of the business side of the operation, a role for which “abundantly qualified” might actually be selling Warren short, while the general manager is the head of the football side. Would that change under new ownership? Dunno, but if it does, the easy solution would be to hire a new team president while retaining Warren as CEO. Should the team sell, having a guy with Warren’s legal background around should be a tremendous asset.

This post should also serve as a farewell to Ted Phillips, an accountant who was the target of much ire from the fan base over stuff that wasn’t really his job. Phillips was great at what ownership asked him to do and has laid an excellent foundation for exciting developments in Arlington Heights. Given the questionable football acumen of the team’s ownership, it is completely understandable that the fans would want somebody between ownership and the GM overseeing the football operation, but it was never Ted’s fault that ownership doesn’t seem to think they need that guy. So thanks for everything, Ted. Hope you enjoy your retirement.

Twitter: @KevinSports312

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