O'Donnell: Clumsy McCaskey Bears dilute what should have been a breakout week

DRAFT WEEKS MAY COME and draft weeks may go. But the dysfunctionality of the McCaskey Bears will likely go on forever.

With big-footin' Kevin Warren now only further gumming up executive thinking in the brink tank known as Halas Hall, how many other NFL teams could proactively upstage themselves on the eve of what should have been a landmark Draft Week '24?

That upstaging will occur today when Warren, George McCaskey and their new happy faces of 2024 host a special event at Soldier Field. It's to unveil renderings of a proposed new stadium and other garden club amenities on the Chicago lakefront.

“VIPs,” “special guests” and other “stakeholders” have been invited.

Oohs and ahs are optional. Hopefully the prawns on the trays of servers will be of correct size to allow the swallowing of fish stories.

IT'S TOO BAD Spanky, Alfalfa and Darla aren't still available. The Little Rascals always loved putting on a show in hopes that the whole gang will come.

What the McCaskey Bears and their larger rascals are attempting to do is convince Illinois power players and more emotionally invested members of their public that the idea of a modern, fresh pro football facility on the Museum Campus of Our Town is in the best interests of all.

It's not. It's not even close. For people like J.B. Pritzker — the White House-eyeballing governor — and neophyte Chicago mayor Brandon Johnson, it's a flirtation with political death.

CHICAGO'S LAKEFRONT — especially the prime section that includes Soldier Field — needs no dramatic upgrade by a private sports show business corporation. It was envisioned and maintained as a timeless, magnificent front porch to a global-class city.

So what if that metropolis may be no bigger than America's fifth-largest by 2030 (behind New York, Los Angeles, Houston and the Dallas Metroplex)?

The Chicago lakefront remains a glorious combination of the best of celestial natural art and man's ability to honor and enhance that gift.

WHAT THE MCCASKEY BEARS are in the midst of — with the clawing Warren constantly demanding center microphone — is an old-fashioned media blitz.

With proven strategists for-hire such as Dennis Culloton pumping the paws buttons, the Bears have relied on generally compliant media to give their lakefront vision a semblance of credibility.

Semblance is as far as it goes. Few outside of the McCaskey Mouse Club actually seem to think a significant rebuild of the lakefront is necessary to accommodate a stadium that might, in a good year, have 30 major operating dates.

THE BIGGEST BLUFF OF THE BEARS ultimately could be a threat to take the Art Modell Highway and leave town.

As long as the team name, colors, record books, fight song and other important legacy items stay, who cares?

Maybe Nashville could get a package deal to take on both the McCaskey NFL franchise and Jerry Reinsdorf's historically pathetic American League baseball team.

That would be a daily double unseen in Tennessee's Music City since Waylon 'n Willie went outlaw. And for Chicago, a marvelously welcome instance of additions by subtractions with two fresh expansion franchises to roll into grand and uncharted futures.

LURKING BEHIND ALL OF THE MCCASKEY/WARREN NONSENSE remains the 326 acres of prime, developable land the Bears own in Arlington Heights.

Some downtowners have reported the Bears have “soured” on the site.

That should be no great surprise given that the McCaskeys have frequently “soured” on any sort of bold, visioned expansions of independent revenue streams.

(Also, recast memo to all resourceful reporters trying to chase tales of the proposed new Bears stadium: The key Vikings operative in getting U.S. Bank Stadium done was Lester Bagley, who remains the team's executive VP of public affairs. Warren was a convenient front-office head to put a construction bonnet on for first-shovel photo ops.)

IN THE 30 MONTHS since the Bears' $197.2 million purchase agreement with Churchill Downs Inc. was announced, the Arlington Park project has moved forward with all the zest of a three-legged thoroughbred trying to get the 10 furlongs of a Kentucky Derby.

Don't blame local school administrators. They're merely trying to maintain all appropriate fiscal integrities for the populations they represent.

The Bears, meanwhile, are whining about nickels and dimes around Arlington Park while professing to commit $2 billion to their proposed obscene disruption of the central Chicago lakefront.

So, downtown, the McCaskey Bears and large rascal Kevin Warren are big spenders and even much bigger talkers.

But around Arlington Park, they revert to the franchise's old McMunchkin ways. Like a bad neighbor, the waffling McCaskey Bears aren't there.

AT DAWN THIS PAST MONDAY, weren't Caleb Williams and Ryan Poles supposed to command the Chicago NFL marquee this week?

Instead, the dysfunctionality of the McCaskey Bears abruptly altered the lettering on today's midday billboard at Soldier Field. A gratuitous event is bumping into a golden draft wingding Bears fans have been anticipating for months.

Whether the No. 1 draft pick is Caleb Williams or sweet-swinging Billy Williams — now age 85 — that inbred business implosiveness is likely to go on forever.

Today, the pawns — er, prawns — are certain to be of appropriate size.

Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears each week on Sunday and Wednesday. Reach him at All communications may be considered for publication.

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