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posted: 4/30/2012 8:31 PM

Only time will tell if Bears' Emery has 'certain it'

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  • Phil Emery just completed his first NFL draft as general manager of the Bears.

    Phil Emery just completed his first NFL draft as general manager of the Bears.
    Associated Press


One draft isn't enough to solve the mystery of whether Phil Emery, new general manager of the Bears, has that "certain it" like Brittany Howard, lead singer of Alabama Shakes, has that "extra something."

(More about the Emery/Howard comparison down a few paragraphs.)

For now, is Emery off to a good start or not? Is he an educated risk taker or a bust-out candidate for Gamblers Anonymous? Is he overall a winning roster assembler or just another loser?

As far as I can see and hear, most of the draft grades the Bears received from national analysts range from average to worse.

Apparently they weren't impressed by Emery taking dubious chances on players with injury, attitude, character or weight issues.

Grades won't matter for a while. Only in retrospect can a GM in any sport be judged to have what it takes to succeed.

Emery's assignment is to fit everything together at Halas Hall, and it'll take a couple of years to determine whether his execution fits his blueprint.

So, no, an NFL general manager like Phil Emery's "certain it" factor can't be judged as quickly as can be a vocalist like Brittany Howard's "extra something" factor.

Howard burst onto the scene last year -- faster than you can say Adele -- and this year Alabama Shakes is one of the music scene's hottest new attractions.

A recent Associated Press article quoted somebody named Patterson Hood of something called The Drive-By Truckers saying that Howard has "the undescribable thing -- the thing that separates people who are really good from those that have that extra something."

One listen will tell you that Howard has that "extra something." One off-season won't tell you what Emery has.

Emery's free-agent signings have been bisected, his trades dissected and his draft picks vivisected. Still, experts could only guess whether he is the next Jim Finks, who generally managed the Bears to a Super Bowl victory, or an extension of Jerry Angelo, who didn't.

Put it this way: I was certain about Alabama Shakes after their sound filled "Letterman" one night last month; it's still impossible to tell whether Emery is Brittany Howard or Moe Howard after hearing a few of his news conferences the past few months.

The day the Bears introduced Emery I asked Ted Phillips whether he thought Emery had "it" and more important what exactly "it" is.

"It's leadership," the Bears' president said. "It's not being afraid to make difficult decisions."

All Phillips can do is think Emery is what he thinks he is because at this point nobody can know for sure whether the new GM has the "it" that it takes to make it in this job.

Uncertainty is what Phillips gets for being intent on hiring a longtime scout to make the transition to first-time general manager.

"I don't see it being a big leap for Phil," Phillips said. "He shows the leadership. He shows an understanding of the big picture. He's got a sense of "

Essentially of everything a GM needs a sense of, according to Phillips. Realistically, though, who really knows how long Emery can ride the bull in his first rodeo?

All anybody can do is catalog a few of Emery's unconventional draft choices and wait to see whether he has the "it" for them to work.

In the meantime, trust me, one listen is enough to know that Brittany Howard has that "extra something."

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