Taming, Blaming of the Fox

“Come and play with me,” proposed the little prince. “I am so unhappy.”

“I cannot play with you,” the Fox said. “I am not tamed.”

The little prince asked, “What does that mean–‘tame’?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties.”

“‘To establish ties’?”

“Just that,” said the Fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a Fox like a hundred thousand other Foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . .”

It was Monday morning, New Year’s Day 2018.  Many of us had stayed up late to pursue our own means of celebrating New Year’s Eve, whether it was getting plastered in some manner of bar, watching Maria Menounos get awkwardly married by Steve Harvey in a pimp coat, or simply falling asleep well before the clock struck twelve.

Earlier that day, however, many fans of the Chicago Bears observed what could most optimistically described as an unremarkable loss to the Minnesota Vikings.  The team was entirely lukewarm-to-poor on all fronts and was soundly beaten by a very good opponent.  Mercifully Mitchell Trubisky finished his season uninjured, and for a Bears team that is stuck in some awkward limbo between potential greatness and utter disaster, that’s really all anyone could’ve hoped for.

The news was all but expected to be official sometime on the morning of New Year’s Day, and it came much earlier than expected; right around 7AM.  For weeks, there had been reports of Fox being well aware he would be fired and had “accepted his fate,” but to what extent anything was made formally clear from one party to another is unknown.

Fox’s final press conference as head coach of the Bears lasted roughly 24 seconds.

Fox, always at odds with the Chicago media since his arrival, left the team with little in the way of success, more questions about his tenure than answers, and many members of the Chicago Sports Press relieved that his era of obfuscation, half-truths, and spiteful rasping has concluded.

That said, it didn’t take long for Ryan Pace to insult everyone’s intelligence.  At 4PM that same day, a distraught Pace took to the podium and waxed poetically how wounded he was to fire Fox, despite reports from insider “Moon” Mullin that insists Pace hadn’t considered Fox until it was pushed upon him from within.

Fox had not been the initial choice to replace Trestman in a search process that, somewhat oddly, began even before the hiring of GM Ryan Pace. That had been then-Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn before Fox was eased out by the Denver Broncos and consultant Ernie Accorsi, retained by the Bears to lead the searches for GM and head coach. Pace was hired as general manager, and when Fox became available, Pace and Bears senior management collectively heeded the recommendation and hired Fox. Quinn, who’d been interviewed by Bears officials even before Pace was hired, went on to coach the Atlanta Falcons into last year’s Super Bowl. – Mullin/NBCSports

There had been rumors of further disagreements, most notably Pace’s surprise move to trade up for Trubisky, which not even Fox had wind of.  The use of Trubisky under Fox was called into question many a time by the organization, especially regarding asinine decisions in the preseason contest against Cleveland, where Trubisky arguably shouldn’t have played more than a series or two.

We all know much of what went wrong during the Fox era:

  • “The Challenge” in the loss vs. Green Bay
  • Losing all but one game in which his Bears were favored (that sole win came against a winless Browns team)
  • Multiple gaffes in gameplanning and/or managing games, earning him a 6-days-a-week reputation that has followed him since the Broncos days
  • Being a thorny old codger to the media, to the point of spiteful tactics and disrespect for the institution

What about what went right?

That’s about it.

He left without much fanfare, and with a slightly dignified air, submitted a statement that was simultaneously acceptable and disingenuous:

View this post on Instagram

A statement from John Fox.

A post shared by Chicago Bears (@chicagobears) on

Ryan Pace, meanwhile, earned an extension to his contract through 2021, and has set out to hire a replacement.  To what extent the meddling from George McCaskey and Ted Phillips, ceremonially employed via nepotism, will have on Pace’s preference for head coach is unknown, but worrisome.

With Bruce Arians retiring, fans should recall just how stupidly team brass bungled that opportunity:

For one, (Arians) was asked to do a mock news conference in the course of his interview. Apparently it wasn’t enough that he was the reigning coach of the year after taking over the Colts and had been doing news conferences all year. The mock news conference was a variation on the actual news conferences that the Bears requested of Smith and runner-up Russ Grimm in 2004 after failing to come to terms with Nick Saban. The message is that perception matters as much as performance to the Bears. Arians was also skeptical of the Bears’ request that Rod Marinelli remain as defensive coordinator, Mulligan wrote. That sentiment echoed an Arizona Republic report earlier in the week that quoted Arians as saying, “It seemed awkward in Chicago because they wanted me to keep some of their (assistant coaches), which wasn’t going to happen.” – Mulligan/Tribune

Arians went on to bring the Cardinals to the NFC title game, and won another Coach of the Year Award.  The Bears, for some reason, hired Marc Trestman.  We all know how that went.

Pace has sought out multiple candidates for interviews already, and allegedly will be accompanied by team ownership during this process.  Am I excited?  Not yet.  But we shall see.

So the little prince tamed the Fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near–

“Ah,” said the Fox, “I shall cry.”

“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . .”

“Yes, that is so,” said the Fox.

“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.

“Yes, that is so,” said the Fox.

“Then it has done you no good at all!”

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