(3) The challenge of the Bears’ President and CEO position along with his professional connection to the organization made the job attractive to Warren.
“I’m a big believer in challenges and I wouldn’t want it if it were easy,” Warren said. “If all the elements were in place, it wouldn’t have been as attractive. But the main thing is the challenge. And I believe in every organization, there are certain inflection points. I think the Chicago Bears are at that point from a positive standpoint. We have so many positive things. I never look at the negatives. There is no such thing as a negative situation. There is only opportunities.”
Warren said the combination of having a historic franchise with valued ownership, a new, young group of players, coaches, staff – including Poles and Eberflus – and the assets in free agency and the NFL Draft create a lot of moving parts that intrigue him.
“I always want to have something where you get out of the bed in the morning that you say there is too much to do,” Warren said. “Because with that, what I’ve learned in my life, that’s when I know I’m in my sweet spot and that’s when I know I really have to rely on my relationship with God and prayer and faith and to work hard and come together. And so if things had been in place here, totally, I wouldn’t have been as attracted. But when you put ownership that has their integrity and the foundation that has been set with all the other elements in place, there’s no greater opportunity in the world right now in sports.”
In Warren’s opening remarks, he detailed his initial connection to the Bears, which formed in 1992 when he started his own sports agency. Former Bears defensive tackle Chris Zorich was Warren’s first client and his only client during his first year as an agent, which he said, “afforded me the opportunity to really learn and understand truly what the Chicago Bears stands for and what it means.”
Warren recalls attending all of the Bears home games at Soldier Field that season and even negotiating Zorich’s contract with Phillips. Now at the helm of the franchise, Warren thanked Zorich for “having faith in a 27-year-old person to represent you” and expressed his gratitude to Zorich for starting him on his 30-year professional journey.
(4) After assessing Warren’s strengths as an executive, McCaskey decided that general manager Ryan Poles will report to Warren moving forward.
While historically, the Bears general manager has reported to the president and CEO, with Phillips’ impending retirement over the last year, McCaskey assumed the duty of overseeing Poles this season.
McCaskey has now assigned that responsibility back to the president and CEO, as Poles will now report to Warren
“It’s clear to me that given Kevin’s experience with NFL clubs, and his interaction with their football operations, we should return to having the general manager report to the president and CEO. Ryan Poles remains in charge of our football operation with complete authority to do what he thinks is best for the Bears. Ryan and Kevin talked during our interview process. And we are confident that they and Matt will work together to give Bears fans the winner they deserve.”
Throughout the hiring process, Warren and Poles were able to establish a strong relationship and are excited to work alongside one another. Poles’ intelligence, attention to detail and methodical thinking immediately stuck out to Warren along with his unique mindset and DNA as a former offensive lineman.
“We trust each other,” Warren said of his relationship with Poles. “And he knows anything that I tell him or share with him or ask of him, it’s only to benefit this organization. And so when you get people like coach and like George and Ted and other people in this organization who have a common goal — not about us. It’s not about any of us. It’s about getting things the right way. Bringing in the best players in here who fit this culture and the talk about championships, but not only desire for the trophy, but really embrace the training, but I just enjoy him because he’s a very detailed individual.”
While Warren’s connections with Poles and Eberflus have begun to form, his relationship with quarterback Justin Fields is long-established. When Warren took over as Big Ten commissioner in 2020, he was tasked with navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and initially canceled the fall football season in August.
Fields, then-quarterback at The Ohio State University, created a petition for the conference to reinstate the football season. In September, Warren decided to reverse course and start the Big Ten football season in October.
Warren said he has a “strong personal relationship with Fields,” and always respected his passion for football and desire to take advantage of every opportunity.
“What that told me about Justin is that he’s passionate,” Warren said. “My whole goal was trying to keep players safe. I appreciated him being able to take that leadership role. I called him on draft day and I was ecstatic that he got drafted by the Bears because that’s what you need from a leadership standpoint.
“I have the greatest amount of respect for him because I know he’s gonna do everything he possibly can with the talent that he has to be a leader. He wants to win championships. Those are the people that I want, because if someone was not upset about [not] playing, then I really would be concerned. I know if I was in the Big Ten and someone did what I did, yeah, I would’ve led a revolt to be able to play, because that’s how passionate I was to take advantage of it. So I think that’s great.”