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Ernie Accorsi views John Fox's Super Bowl failures as a positive

Former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi served as a consultant with the Chicago Bears as they worked through the process of bringing aboard GM Ryan Pace and new head coach John Fox.

Accorsi spoke recently about the process during ESPN 1000′s "Waddle & Silvy" show, and he dropped several interesting tidbits. Here’s Part II of an interview that we will break down into three parts:

You mentioned that Ryan Pace is an old soul and he’s experienced. But was it desired to pair Pace with an experienced coach such as John Fox?

Accorsi: I didn’t make the final decision, but I don’t think the final decision was based on, 'We better have an older coach.' If you do that, you’re going to limit yourself. You have to pick the best person. But I will say this about youth. Pete Rozelle was 33 ... this was when they got the job. [Don] Shula was 33. John Madden was 32. [Chuck] Noll was 35. They’re all in the Hall of Fame. So I don’t think it matters when you get started. My first shot I was 41. I made mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes, because it’s your first time around the circuit. That’s just gonna happen. Hiring John Fox was the best qualified person for the job. But the fact that he’s been around, that helps, no question. You can’t substitute for having gone through the wars. When something hits you in the face for the first time, it’s tough to handle it. [Bill] Parcells had a great line when he became a general manager. He said five things happen every day that you don’t want to happen. It’s not like you’re coaching. Coaching, you’re trained to rectify things on the field. But when you have a guy around who can say, 'Look, I’ve been through this. Don’t worry about it. We can get through this in this way or that way.' It does help. It’s a plus, there’s no question.

You’ve got a relationship with Fox, dating to your time with the Giants. Did you have to sell Fox much to Pace?

Accorsi: I wasn’t going to sell him, because I was the one guy who knew him, had worked with him. I think that’s where, as a consultant, you can make a big mistake. I’m not a salesman. I’m an advisor. It was unanimous that George [McCaskey], Ted {Phillips] and Ryan wanted to interview him. All you had to do was look at his record. So I, of course, was for it. But I didn’t say anything until afterward, because I wanted them to get whatever impression. When he walked in that room, he was just fresh to them. I didn’t treat it like this is an old [friend]. I was tough on him. I asked some tough questions. We have a great relationship, but I’ll just give you an example. We lost Super Bowl XXXV together, and we didn’t play very well. I always complained about we did nothing on offense. I’m sure it was great defense. But this was sort of the bust-your-chops shot for him. I said to him, 'I wasn’t crazy about [Jim] Fassel’s offensive game plan. And as a matter of fact, I wasn’t that happy with yours either.' I didn’t pull any punches with him. I wouldn’t have done that. He impressed them, there was no question. And it was a game-changer. Look, I think the single toughest thing to do in football is to project an assistant coach to the head coaching job. They’re two different jobs. The things you have to deal with as a head coach. You can immerse yourself in strategy and X’s and O’s as an assistant, and player relations because you’re dealing with these guys. But the head coach, he has to control that. Now you’re a head coach, you’re the commander of the army. It’s a whole different thing. And you never, never know. You just don’t know. With Fox, you knew: 30 games over .500, seven playoffs, two Super Bowls. The fact that he lost two Super Bowls to me was even more important, because the hunger and drive you have to never let that happen again, to right that wrong, is as powerful a force as you can have in this business.

During the process, how much was Jay Cutler discussed?

Accorsi: First of all, I wasn’t going to get involved in personnel. I haven’t seen the Bears that much. But anytime in an interview, you basically ... because you want to see how prepared a person is for the interview. You basically ask a coach to go through your team. Most of them, the minute they know they’re going to get the interview, unless it’s the day before, they prepare. Both general manager candidates and head coaches evaluate your team for you. Within that framework, obviously they talked about the quarterback. They talked about the backup quarterback. They talked about every position. Most of those guys really have a chance to prepare. In all fairness to Fox, he had just lost a championship game on Sunday. He was still in the post-championship game period, which wasn’t exactly fair for him to be completely prepared for an interview, because there was a chance when he was coaching that game that he was going to be coaching a Super Bowl. So, not as much with him as the others, but you ask them to go through your whole team and have them evaluate your team for you.