Bears prez Kevin Warren likes state of team, mum on Matt Eberflus

ByCourtney Cronin ESPN logo
Friday, January 5, 2024

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears team president and CEO Kevin Warren offered a state of the franchise with multiple offseason decisions looming, but he wouldn't reveal the fate of coach Matt Eberflus.

Eberflus had been on the hot seat since Chicago lost its first four games of the season and quarterback Justin Fields appeared to regress. But the Bears have won four of five down the stretch heading into Sunday's finale at rival Green Bay.

Warren said he would answer more questions related to the Bears' on-field product next week.

"As we've said all along, we just continually will stay focused on finishing the season strong, take a big-picture, methodical look at everything," Warren said. "I'm looking forward to heading to Green Bay tomorrow. Hopefully the team can keep playing well."

Eberflus spoke a bit later and was asked if he expects to return.

"Expect is a word of expectation," he said. "That's a word that belongs in to the future, right? I would say that we're going to have those meetings. I welcome those meetings during the course of the next few days after the game, early part of next week and we'll have those meetings at the appropriate time. And right now, we're focused on this game."

He addressed the work he's done to convince the front office he's the man for the job.

"I feel really good about where this team is," he said. "This team is on the rise. I feel really good about the second half of the season with where the whole football team is going right now and I love the camaraderie, the relationships that we built and you can certainly see the progress. So yeah, I feel good about it."

Warren made a couple of other announcements, including pledging $1 million to Lurie Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

The timing of the donation by Warren and his wife, Greta, to Lurie Children's holds sentimental meaning to the Bears president. In 2014, when Warren was the president of the Minnesota Vikings, his sister Carolyn Elaine Warren-Knox died of brain cancer. Warren received the news of his sister's passing while in the team hotel the night before the Vikings played in Green Bay.

Before her death, Warren-Knox told her brother to "do what you can to make their lives easier," referring to the families of children fighting cancer.

"It really became an opportunity for us to lean into it," Warren said. "Her words resonated with Greta and myself, so we did something about it and we leaned forward. I just saw the blessing that it meant to so many kids. So now to be able to see her legacy go from Arizona to Minnesota now to Illinois with all the young people around the world who will continually pay it forward."

Warren's own experience receiving treatment in a children's hospital has guided his philanthropic efforts. Warren was hit by a car at 11 years old in 1974 while riding his bicycle in Tempe, Arizona, and spent months in a hospital in traction and a body cast.

"I know what first-class medical care can do to change someone's life for the better," he said, adding: "When you think you've given enough, give more. Because at the end of the day, you can't take this with you."

Warren also sent birthday wishes to Bears owner Virginia McCaskey, who turned 101 on Friday.

The franchise that she has been a part of for so long is in good shape, according to Warren.

"I'm very pleased with the energy of our team, and it's not only on game day," Warren said. "It's around the practice facility, around Halas Hall. Just the energy. You all see it in the locker room. Guys are playing hard, they're competing and so we'll continually just build forward as a franchise."

Part of that build will be from the first overall pick in the upcoming draft. They received that pick from Carolina after trading out of No. 1 last season. Literal building could come later. The Bears purchased the grounds of the old Arlington Racetrack as a potential new stadium site. The plan stalled over a tax dispute, but Warren said Friday that the Bears timeline for deciding to move forward with a new suburban stadium site or remain in Chicago is "right on target."

"I'm just really energized as a franchise of where we are, with what we have going on with the stadium, what we have going on internally, just building our brand and what we have going on with our football team," Warren said.