It wasn’t an easy path that Phil Emery took to arrive at his most important decision as Bears’ general manager — the hiring of Marc Trestman to replace Lovie Smith as head coach.
But the process reaffirmed what Emery already believed about the job.
“It’s a gem; it’s a prize,” Emery said. “And that was expressed to me during those one-on-one interviews.”
There were 14 of those interviews — Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was the mystery candidate who went unreported — and then three lengthy second interviews (7-8 hours) at Halas Hall.
Because Trestman and Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had previous head-coaching experience, they made the final two, while Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was eliminated.
“I wanted to find somebody who would be in lockstep with us, with me,” Emery said, “so that we could move together as a team to attain our goals.”
After long talks with chairman George McCaskey and CEO and team president Ted Phillips on Tuesday it was time to make a decision.
“Both George and Ted asked me my thoughts on who was the final person,” Emery said. “I gave them my thoughts, and George looked at me and told me, ‘During this process, we always told you at the end we would defer to your candidate.’
He said, ‘It’s time to defer; who is the choice?’
“I said, ‘Marc Trestman.’”
Emery’s original set of criteria were: excellence in his role, a high level of organizational/administrative skill, energy and the ability and the warmth to pull people together toward a common goal to make it a shared experience.
Emery said Trestman was “One of the top, if not the top (quarterbacks coach), when he left the NFL in 2004.”
He said Trestman also “clearly” demonstrated excellence as an offensive coordinator with the Raiders (2002-03) and 49ers (1995-96) and as a head coach with the Montreal Alouettes, winning two Grey Cup titles.
Emery said when he asked himself why, in his gut, he chose Trestman, several things stood out. First was making the move to Canada.
“The mental toughness that it takes to go in to some place that you’ve never been before,” Emery said. “They don’t know you or anything about you, they speak a foreign language, it’s a town unfamiliar to you in a game that is different than the one you’re used to coaching.”
In the thorough, organized, understated Trestman, Emery saw similarities to himself. In his first interview Trestman produced a detailed, day-by-day 13-month calendar culminating in the Bears’ Super Bowl parade.
“He’s had personal ups and downs, but at the end, where is he?” Emery said. “He’s a champion, and now he’s the head football coach of the Chicago Bears. It was a road widely traveled for Marc, not unfamiliar to me. I’ve been in all corners of this country.”
Emery also cited Trestman’s ability to adapt to personnel, exemplified last year when the Alouettes lost their top runner and best wide receivers but adjusted by making talented tight ends the focal point of their attack.
And there was one other personal connection.
Trestman told Emery his favorite quote was: “What I do for myself is buried with me. What I do for other lives forever.”
“During our one-on-one discussions, he might have said it eight times to the point where he knew I actually got it,” Emery said, smiling. “Marc has a law degree; I’m a physical education major. It takes a few reps for me. But that said a lot to me about his approach in life and who he is as a person and his personal growth, his journey, his story.”
That connection went even deeper.
“He also told me that he got that quote from ‘Criminal Minds,’” Emery said. “So there was another connection, because my wife (Beth) and I, we love ‘Law and Order’ and ‘Criminal Minds.’
“So we knew we had a match made in heaven.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.