“I Came Here To Win Championships”| Chicago Bears’ New CEO Kevin Warren Is Saying All The Right Things, But He Has A Massive Uphill Climb

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 26: Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren speaks during the 2022 Big Ten Conference Football Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 26, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Kevin Warren made waves at his introductory press conference as the new CEO and president for the Chicago Bears. He will be replacing current CEO and president Ted Phillips, who is retiring this spring after 40 years with the organization.

Warren will begin his duties in April but told reporters he has already started in his mind. He spoke for about an hour at his introductory presser, and he tackled topics like the Bears’ new facility, franchise QB Justin Fields‘ status with the team, and winning.

According to USA Today Bears Wire, the immediate takeaway from Warren’s introduction was that things felt different, in a good way.

Who is Kevin Warren?

Warren started his career as an attorney practicing sports law in 1990. Then he transitioned to the NFL in 1997 when the St. Louis Rams hired him as vice president of player programs and football legal counsel.

He left the Rams in 2001 to take a job with the Detroit Lions. After three seasons with the Lions, Warren jumped back into practicing law full time with an international law firm from 2003-05.

Warren made his way back to the NFL in 2005 to be the head legal representation of the Minnesota Vikings business affairs.

During his time with the Vikings, he represented Zygi Wilf and the Vikings ownership group when they purchased the team for $600 million in 2005. Wilf then asked him to be the team’s COO. By the time Warren left in 2019 the Vikings’ value had ballooned from $600 million in 2005 to $2.7 billion.

First Black Power Five commissioner

In 2019, he found himself in college football for the first time when he took over as the Big Ten commissioner. During his time as commissioner, he convinced UCLA and USC to join the Big Ten conference. He also ushered in a seven-year, $7 billion television rights deal for the conference on Fox Sports.

What did Warren say at press conference?

“Greatness is ahead of us,” Warren said. “All we need to do now is go ahead and grasp it.” Warren wasn’t just talking about on-field success when he made this statement. The Bears organization believes he is the guy that can do a full 180 to change this franchise around.

Warren has pioneered big deals before on the professional and collegiate level. He played an integral role with U.S. Bank Stadium, and now he will lead the charge for the development of Arlington Heights Stadium. Arlington Heights is a suburb of Chicago that lies 25 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. The Bears have been locked in on this location for quite some time now, despite the efforts from the city of Chicago to keep them at Soldier Field.

Warren made it crystal clear that Arlington Heights is the main focus for him.

“Yes that’s the sole focus right now,” Warren said. “One hundred percent.”

He also understands that you have to plan before you break ground. He didn’t have a timeline for the new stadium because the Bears still have to close on the property, which is expected to happen this spring.

As for competing on the football field, Warren made it clear he expects the Bears to be a winner. The Bears haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1985. Since that time, the Bears have just managed to make the playoffs only 12 times, two conference championships, a Super Bowl appearance (2007), and .500 playoffs record.

“I came here to win championships,” Warren said. “To win the NFC North, to win the NFC, and to win Super Bowls.”

Warren’s relationship with Fields

The Bears’ fan base has flirted with the idea of trading Fields and using the first pick to take Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud, but Warren shut that idea down quickly.

His and Fields relationship dates back to both of their college days when Warren was the Big Ten commissioner and Fields was Ohio State’s starting quarterback (2019-2020). The two clashed in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when Warren canceled football games. Fields started an online petition to have those games reinstated.

“If I had been in the Big Ten at the same time as a player, I would have done the same thing,” Warren stated. “My whole goal as commissioner was to keep players safe. I have a strong personal relationship with him.”

Warren expressed his excitement for the future of the Bears and wants Fields to be a part of that future.

He also talked about the reason he took the job because it presented a challenge for him.

“It’s because of the challenge, the opportunity,” Warren said. “I trust Ryan (Poles), I trust Coach Matt (Eberflus), that we’re going to do things the right way. We’re not going to take shortcuts. We’re going to build an incredible franchise. I came here to win championships.”

The Bears have the top pick in 2023 NFL draft, $118 million in projected cap space, and a promising young quarterback to build around.