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Volume 26 No. 45

Franchises

Bears QB Mitch Trubisky hosted a panel alongside former QB Jim McMahon on Saturday
Photo: BEARS

The Bears estimate 8,000-10,000 fans attended each day of the team's three-day Bears100 Celebration Weekend at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center this weekend, which "might have been the largest assembly of Bears fans outside a stadium," according to Patrick Finley of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Many former players were in attendance, but none of them "got the same reactions" as the '85 Bears (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/10). The SUN-TIMES' Finley noted some fans stood in a line that "wound for blocks" to get into the convention center. As Bears Chair George McCaskey's car got close, McCaskey "looked out his window and saw the line -- several hundred people, if not more than a thousand -- waiting to get into the convention center" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/9). In Chicago, Rich Campbell noted the event "celebrated team history to the fullest" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/9). The TRIBUNE's Brad Biggs notes the biggest takeaway from the weekend was seeing "how much the players enjoyed the opportunity to come together again, to see former teammates and to rub shoulders with some of the legends who have played the game for the organization" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/10).

RARE APPEARANCE: In Chicago, Hub Arkush wrote some fans' "loyalty was rewarded by a truly special appearance" by Bears Principal Owner Virginia McCaskey. After this weekend's celebration, it is "hard to imagine the team being in a better place with fans" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 6/10). The SUN-TIMES' Finley noted when Virginia McCaskey "spoke at a panel on the final day of the Bears100 Celebration Weekend, it was the first time some fans had heard her voice." McCaskey is "notoriously private," but she "let her sense of humor shine through" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/10). Also in Chicago, Dan Wiederer writes McCaskey's perspective was "unique and insightful." At 96, she "charmed a riveted audience" at the convention center with "stories from long, long ago and ambitions for the immediate future." Over the last year or so, she has "spent more than 15 hours connecting with longtime football writers Don Pierson and Dan Pompei sharing her memories and insights for the Chicago Bears Centennial Scrapbook." McCaskey "not only remains sharp and sweet but intensely competitive" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/10).

THROWBACK APPEAL: The TRIBUNE's Campbell noted the Bears on Friday "unveiled a classic alternate uniform they will wear twice" in '19 to commemorate their 100th season. The uniform is a "replica of what the team wore" in '36 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/8). The TRIBUNE's Biggs notes the jersey "was a huge hit with the fans who came through the doors." There were many fans "wearing the new white jersey everywhere you looked" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/10).

HONORING A LEGEND: In Chicago, Mark Potash noted Pro Football HOFer Gale Sayers, who is "suffering from severe dementia," made an appearance at the event Friday night in a "bittersweet moment on a night of celebration." Appearing on stage with Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka, Sayers "showed no acknowledgement of the ovation he received from Bears fans" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/8).

Sources said that Gaine's relationship with coach Bill O'Brien had begun to deteriorate
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Texans "rocked the NFL" by firing GM Brian Gaine on Friday after just 17 months on the job, as the franchise is an "organization that takes pride in its front-office stability," according to a front-page piece by John McClain of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. After Gaine's firing, Texans Senior VP/Football Administration Chris Olsen, who "negotiates contracts and oversees the salary cap, was put in charge of the front office on an interim basis." Texans Chair & CEO Cal McNair said that the search for Gaine’s replacement "will begin immediately." Sources said that McNair "did not like the direction the organization was going under Gaine and the general manager’s relationship with coach Bill O’Brien had eroded." Rather than "allow his concerns about Gaine to extend into next season, McNair elected to make the decision Friday." Sources also said that there was "no one incident that triggered the decision and that it was made over time." Texans co-Founder & Senior Chair Janice McNair "signed off on her son’s decision." Sources said that the Texans are interested in Patriots Dir of Player Personnel Nick Caserio "because of his ties to O’Brien although it is unclear if New England would allow him to seek another job" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/8).

WHO IS IN CONTROL? In Houston, Jerome Solomon wrote Gaine "didn’t do anything in his year and a half on the job to indicate he was going to lead the Texans to a Super Bowl anytime soon." Solomon: "So, when is Bill O’Brien going to be fired?" Gaine "was an O’Brien hire," but now the question is "whether Gaine is an O’Brien fire." The Texans are "now Cal McNair’s team." The "bungling of this GM hire/fire shouldn’t make Texans fans any more confident the organization knows what it is doing" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/9). Also in Houston, Brian Smith noted O'Brien has "now been through two GMs" since '14. The Texans "look silly just 18 months after they went through an exhaustive 'search' that was always zeroed in on Gaine" (CHRON.com, 6/7). Smith wrote in NFL terms, Cal McNair is a "literal real-life question mark," as he has "yet to engage in depth with the media." Elite franchises are "aligned and united." The Texans "look like a pushover constantly being bullied by the most intense voice inside the stadium." The franchise "must hire the best GM for the job," not the GM that O’Brien "wants the most" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/9). PFT's Mike Florio said of O'Brien, "At some point as you build up this long list of people that you can't get along with, at some point it's not them, it's you that's the problem" ("PFT," NBCSN, 6/10).

MAN IN CHARGE: THE MMQB's Albert Breer writes the "takeaway from the Texans stunner" is that the NFL is a "coach’s league." The four coaches who played in the conference championships in January -- the Chiefs' Andy Reid, Saints' Sean Payton, Rams' Sean McVay and Patriots' Bill Belichick -- all "carry a big stick in their respective organizations." If a team has a good coach, and the Texans "believe they do, chances are that guy’s voice will resonate." History "tells us sustained winners generally empower their coaches" (SI.com, 6/10). 

The Jets hope Douglas can galvanize the team and lead them back to respectability
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Jets have hired Eagles VP/Player Personnel Joe Douglas -- an "ally of new coach Adam Gase" -- as their new GM, becoming the team's "fourth GM in the past eight years," according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. A source said that the Jets are "giving Douglas a six-year deal." The franchise hopes Douglas can "galvanize an organization in turmoil" in the aftermath of former Jets GM Mike Maccagnan's "surprising ouster." A source said that the Jets "would not take no for an answer from Douglas." He "tried to turn down the job, and each time he did, the team came back at him harder and harder and simply was not going to be denied in its efforts to land him" (ESPN.com, 6/8). The AP's Dennis Waszak Jr. wrote Douglas is now tasked with "leading the team back to respectability." Douglas was "widely considered as one of the league's up-and-coming potential general managers." Douglas and Gase will report to Jets Chair & CEO Christopher Johnson separately, a structure Johnson "has said he believes is most effective" (AP, 6/7).

HIGH PRAISE: ESPN.com's Cimini wrote on the surface, Douglas is a "very good hire by the Jets." But this "isn't your typical GM gig" (ESPN.com, 6/7). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote the Jets "deserve praise" for hiring Douglas. It is "far better to have everyone on the same page, and Douglas and Gase will be on the same page" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 6/8). THE MMQB's Albert Breer writes for "all the pain the Jets went through to get here," there is a "better-than-good chance that hiring Joe Douglas will be worth it." That is because Douglas is "among the most respected scouts, at any level, in all of football, and one of the few who you really never hear anything negative about." Breer notes he would "consider the six years on Douglas' deal vital, mainly because of the lingering unknown of how secure the new GM would be when Woody Johnson returns from the U.K., which could happen as soon as next year" (SI.com, 6/10).

SURPRISE ADDITION? ESPN.com's Cimini reported ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is "under consideration for a front-office role" with the Jets under Douglas. McShay and Douglas were teammates at the Univ. of Richmond in the late '90s. McShay is "expected to speak with Douglas around mid-week" (ESPN.com, 6/8). In New Jersey, Andy Vasquez wrote it is "unclear what McShay's role would be in the Jets' new-look front office" (Bergen RECORD, 6/9).

UNCHARTED TERRITORY: ESPN.com's Cimini noted the three "most important figures" in the Jets organization -- Douglas, Gase and QB Sam Darnold -- are represented by CAA's Jimmy Sexton. This "creates the potential of a conflict of interest, especially when Darnold's contract can be renegotiated" in '21. Ostensibly, Douglas will be "across the bargaining table from the man who represents him, too." This is "highly unusual" (ESPN.com, 6/9).

Chase Center GM Kim Stone is one six women holding high-level executive positions within the Warriors
Photo: CHASE CENTER

Warriors co-Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber upon buying the team in '10 had an intention to "promote and add women in what had been considered the old boys’ club of professional sport," and now their vision is "abundantly clear," according to Rusty Simmons of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The Warriors have six women in vice president or higher positions, three of whom have been "hired in the past three months," and the number of female employees has increased from about 20% to 40% since Lacob and Guber bought the team. Lacob said, “I value different opinions, different perspectives and different outlooks." Simmons noted having six women in VP or higher positions "puts the Warriors among the NBA’s top third." Chase Center GM Kim Stone said Warriors President & COO Rick Welts "has become a resource to other teams about how to do diversity." She added, "There’s a long way to go, and we need that other voice in the room, but it’s a good start. The NBA, I give them tons of credit for being the leader here.” Simmons noted the Warriors have a "mentor program that shows girls how to get jobs in the NBA." They do things "as simple as making sure job postings are equally attractive to all genders," as well as "making it OK to have a work-life balance" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/9).