Chicago Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips will retire at the end of the season after nearly 40 years with the franchise.
Phillips, an accountant by trade, joined the Bears as a team controller in 1983 and spent four years in that role before rising through the ranks of the organization. He became the fourth president of the founding NFL franchise in February 1999 and has since helped hire four general managers, including Ryan Poles this year.
Phillips oversaw several renovations to the team’s suburban headquarters and played a key role in negotiating the oft-criticized renovation of Soldier Field in 2002.
Most recently, he focused on buying a 326-acre piece of land in suburban Arlington Heights, Illinois where a new stadium and entertainment complex could be built. The team is due to unveil concept plans for the site of the former Arlington International Racetrack — about 30 miles northwest of Soldier Field — at a community meeting Thursday in the city.
Phillips said in a statement Friday that he was “truly blessed” to work for the Bears. He said he appreciated the support of the McCaskey family owners and called “overseeing this incredible growth of the Chicago Bears” a “dream come true.”
“Each day has been a real pleasure and being around so many talented and wonderful people has made my job very rewarding on so many levels,” he said. “I will always bleed blue and orange and forever be proud to be part of the Chicago Bears family.”
Team matriarch Virginia McCaskey, the daughter of founder George Halas, said in a rare public statement that the Bears were “very blessed” to have Phillips.
“Everything he was asked to do, he came and did it very well,” she said.
The Bears said a search for his replacement was underway and a successor would be hired “in the coming months.”
“It’s hard to put into words what Ted has meant to the Bears and our family,” chairman George McCaskey said. “The confidence that Virginia and Ed McCaskey placed in him by appointing him president and CEO of the Bears has been rewarded time and time again.”
Phillips has been a lightning rod for frustrated Bears fans. His contribution to the hiring of general managers and coaches was a sore point, given his non-football experience and the difficulties on the pitch. Although the 2006 team reached the Super Bowl, the Bears have only made six playoffs since becoming president.
The team and the city also drew criticism for the renovation of Soldier Field. The interior was demolished, replaced with a flying saucer-like structure dominated by cantilevered glass over the famous Greek and Romanesque colonnades, and the stadium lost its National Historic Landmark designation. The renovation also reduced seating for Bears games to 61,500, the lowest in the NFL.
Phillips oversaw a 2012 renovation to Halas Hall that added over 30,000 square feet to the team’s headquarters. A massive transformation completed in August 2019 gave the Bears expanded locker rooms, weight rooms, conference rooms and offices as well as a new player lounge and two more practice grounds to give the team four in all.
The Bears also moved training camp from Wisconsin to Illinois during Phillips’ tenure as president, holding it at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, from 2002 to 2019 before moving it to Halas Hall. in 2020.
Phillips has served on several NFL committees. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Bears’ philanthropic arm as well as the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
Before becoming team president, Phillips spent six years as vice president of operations and served as chief financial officer from 1987 to 1993.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL