LaMar “Soup” Campbell’s office is located off the busy hallway that connects the dining area and the locker room at Halas Hall.
And the door is always open.
You’ll usually see at least one player in there, sometimes more. They might be chatting with Campbell or simply relaxing on his couch.
Since joining the Bears in 2017 as the director of player engagement, the man affectionately referred to as “Soup” throughout the building has earned the trust and appreciation of countless players that have come through the organization.
And now he clearly has the trust of ownership, as Campbell was named to the search committee that will select the Bears’ next general manager and head coach.
Bears chairman George McCaskey announced the appointment of both Campbell and senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion Tanesha Wade to a search committee that will also include team president Ted Phillips and Hall-of-Fame executive Bill Polian, who has been brought in as an advisor.
“I think they’re going to be great. They’re both very excited about the opportunity,” McCaskey said.
As the Bears begin an incredibly important search for the next leaders of the team, here's what you need to know about both Campbell and Wade:
Campbell, 45, is a former player who has focused on player development since his five-year career with the Detroit Lions ended in 2004. After playing for the Wisconsin Badgers in the 90s, Campbell went back to Madison to complete his education and work for Barry Alvarez in the athletic department. He was Wisconsin’s assistant athletic director of student-athlete engagement before joining the Bears in 2017.
Because Campbell has the pulse of the locker room and the trust of the players, he’ll be able to sense which general manager/head coach candidates are a good fit for the pieces that already exist on the roster.
“The primary responsibility for Soup will be can this person, both the general manager and the head coach, lead these players?,” McCaskey said.
In his role, Campbell is essentially the conduit between players and management. Bringing him into the search committee was a really smart move by ownership, especially since interactions between ownership and players have been extremely limited since the pandemic started.
“He is in the locker room on a daily basis talking to the players, what's important, what's on their minds, what's bothering them, what are they happy about. From a whole host of different topics,” Phillips said. “I think he will add great insight into how the locker room might react to different styles of coaching, different styles of leadership.”
Wade has been with the Bears since 2013, and previously was the team’s director of events and entertainment, running the show at Soldier Field on game days. A former basketball player at Oregon State, she also played a major role in hosting the team’s first training camp at Halas Hall last summer.
Wade was recently promoted to senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, a new position.
“This will be a great learning experience for her,” McCaskey said. “But these hires are so important that I felt it was important to involve her in the process.”
Given that Wade is still very new in her position, it will be interesting to see how much say she ultimately has in the hirings. But it was very smart to have her involved. The Bears need new voices in the room — and not just the voice of another outside advisor coming in with a Rolodex of contacts.
"Tanesha, she's very bright and she will help us consider diversity of thought and the implicit bias that a lot of people have when they go through trying to hire leadership, whether it's a coach or a general manager," Phillips said.
While the Bears didn’t exactly inspire confidence by taking the same approach they took when they hired Ryan Pace and John Fox in 2015, Campbell and Wade provide some hope that the outcome will be different this time.