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 the team’s controller in 1983 and spent four years in that position before moving up the organization’s ladder. He became the fourth president of the founding NFL franchise in February 1999 and has had a hand since then in hiring 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, his focus has been on purchasing a 326-acre tract of land in suburban Arlington Heights, Illinois, where a new stadium and entertainment complex could be built. The team is scheduled to unveil conceptual plans for the site of the former Arlington International Racecourse — about 30 miles northwest of Soldier Field — at a community meeting Thursday in the town.
Phillips said Friday in a statement he has been “truly blessed” to work for the Bears. He said he appreciated the support of the McCaskey family owners and called “overseeing this amazing growth of the Chicago Bears” a “dream come true.”
“Every day has been a true pleasure and being surrounded by so many talented and wonderful people has made my job richly rewarding on many levels,” he said. “I will always bleed blue and orange and forever be proud to be a part of the Chicago Bears family.”
Team matriarch Virginia McCaskey, the daughter of founder George Halas, said in a rare public statement the Bears were “very blessed” to have Phillips.
“Anything that he was ever asked to take care of, he came through and did it very well,” she said.
The Bears said a search for his replacement is underway and a successor will be hired “in the coming months.”
“It’s difficult to put into words how much Ted has meant to the Bears and our family,” chairman George McCaskey said. “The faith that Virginia and Ed McCaskey placed in him by naming him President and CEO of the Bears has been rewarded many times over.”
Phillips has been a lightning rod for frustrated Bears fans. His input in hiring general managers and coaches was a sore spot, given his non-football background and the struggles on the field. Though the 2006 team reached the Super Bowl, the Bears have just six playoff appearances since he became president.
The team and city also drew criticism for the renovation of Soldier Field. The interior was demolished, replaced by a flying saucer-like, glass-dominated structure cantilevered 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, lowest in the NFL.
Phillips oversaw a renovation in 2012 to Halas Hall that added more than 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 players’ lounge and two more practice fields to give the team four in all.
The Bears also moved training camp back to Illinois from Wisconsin 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 on the board of directors of the Bears’ philanthropic arm as well as the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
Before becoming the team’s president, Phillips spent six years as vice president of operations and was director of finance from 1987-93.
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