In new general manager Phil Emery's introductory press conference, he grudgingly admitted that he had final say on the 53-man roster and ultimately the power to fire head coach Lovie Smith if necessary.
But the former Chiefs' director of college scouting and one-time area scout for the Bears (1998-2004) was much more focused on working together as part of a team than in exercising the authority that comes with his new position.
"My mind is around moving us forward as a team," the 53-year-old Emery said. "I have that authority, I have full control, but that's not where my head is. My mind is on helping everybody in this building advance to where we are a consistent winner and a championship team. That's where my mind is."
Emery's first order of business was undertaken hours before his mid-afternoon news conference Jan. 29 at Halas Hall. Director of player personnel Tim Ruskell was let go, although the team's website reported it as "a mutual agreement to part ways." Ruskell had a year left on the contract he signed in 2010, when he was brought aboard by former general manager Jerry Angelo. When Ruskell was the Atlanta Falcons assistant general manager in 2004, he hired Emery as the team's director of college scouting.
There will be some additional restructuring in the Bears' personnel department, including the area scouts, four of whom remain from when Emery held the same position. He was hired by then-vice president of player personnel Mark Hatley but remained after Angelo took over as general manager in 2001. The addition of a director of college scouting and a director of pro scouting and any additions or subtractions to or from the scouting department will not occur until after the draft, April 26-28.
In a 50-minute press conference, Emery spoke at length on several other timely topics that will consume his time in the days leading up to the scouting combine, the start of free agency and then the draft.
He claims to already have a good feel for the current 53-man roster, which he studied in preparation for the interview process.
"I have a very good feel for where this team is at," Emery said. "This team has a very good core of play-making players. Not only have I seen them like any fan on TV, but I've also done extensive research of this team and the players (in preparation for his interviews), and there is a good core. My job moving forward with the coaches, with the coaching staff, with the front-office staff, with the people in this building in operations, and video, and training, and marketing, is to continue to build this team so that we can be consistent winners and be consistently in the hunt to win championships."
Emery was asked specifically about only two players. On quarterback Jay Cutler, he said: "I think Jay is a fine quarterback. I got an opportunity to watch him extensively at Vanderbilt. The guy makes plays. Those are the kind of playmakers we want."
On 33-year-old Brian Urlacher, he said: "He's a player who is still making plays. I've heard rumblings that there is age on our roster. I kind of look at it this way: It's not a number. It's whether you are making plays. If it was just a number, (or a) number of gray hairs, I wouldn't be standing here."
To the dismay of the media, Emery was very forthcoming about his intention not to be forthcoming when discussing the team's personnel issues in the future.
"When it comes time to publicly assess our needs," Emery said, "or to publicly talk about players that we may target; we will not do that, OK? Because I feel that's a competitive disadvantage to do so. We will know internally what our needs are, we will know internally the players that we are going to target.
"(But) we will not give away our competitive advantage to outline who those individuals are, or in what particular position they are. I will say this: What is going to be targeted are good football players, producers, dynamic play-makers that can help this football team grow, help the players that are here and surround them with more weapons, more people that can make plays and to help this football team in its march towards championships."
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