As Bears chairman George McCaskey visited with Dan Jiggetts and myself during "Bears Recap" Monday on Comcast SportsNet, we asked him about the interview two floors above the TV studio at Halas Hall that eventually led to Ryan Pace being introduced as General Manager January 9th.
"Throughout the process, Ernie (Accorsi, the Bears' consultant throughout their search for a new GM and head coach) kept hearing good things about this 'kid,' he called him. The more he heard, the more positive the feedback was," McCaskey recalled.
"As we went through the process, before we interviewed Ryan, he was just kind of 'out there,' and I didn't know that much about him at all. But (Bears president and CEO) Ted Phillips has a good relationship with Mickey Loomis, the Saints general manager, and Mickey spoke very highly of him and didn't want to lose him.
"As the interview concluded, we all looked at each other as Ryan was walking down the hall, saying, 'Now, we'd better not let him get away.'
"So we called. His car was on its way to the airport and we had the car turn around. So it worked out very well."
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
Pace tells a similar story in the wake of his interview a few days later with John Fox for the head coaching job, but that call came when Fox was already about to board his return flight to Denver. Pace would meet him out there a couple of days later. A week after Pace's introductory press conference, Fox was named his head coach.
Pace was the fourth candidate interviewed by McCaskey, Phillips and Accorsi. The others later had changes in status with their clubs. Brian Gaine was elevated from director of pro personnel to director of player personnel with the Texans. Former Bears Director of Pro Scouting (thought by many to be the favorite because of his familiarity with the organization) was promoted from director of player personnel to director of football operations with the Chiefs. Lake Dawson was fired by the Titans as vice president of player personnel at the end of January, and eventually landed in the Browns' personnel department.