Shortly before completing his first full day as Bears general manager Friday, Ryan Pace sat down with Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com for an exclusive interview:
LM: You interviewed for the position Wednesday, were hired Thursday and introduced to the media Friday. What have the last 48 hours been like?
LM: Is there a bit of a surreal feel to it for you at this point?
RP: "It feels a little surreal. There's a little bit of a dream state to it. I woke up this morning smiling and I went to bed last night smiling. I'm glad that (his wife) Stephanie and (daughter) Cardyn are here. It's just different. I've walked into the same building every day for 15 years, so walking in here just feels different. But I'm excited."
LM: The Bears were very impressed with your interview. What did you try to convey to convince them that you were the right person for the position?
RP: "That I'm confident in my abilities, that I have a plan and this is it, and I'm very thorough and very detailed in a lot of different areas, whether it's college or pro or hiring a new head coach or statistical analysis or structure of an organization."
LM: When you were playing defensive end at Eastern Illinois, did you ever dream you'd ever become general manager of the Chicago Bears, and did you know what path you wanted to take?
RP: "When I was at Eastern I didn't know how extensive scouting was. I thought about maybe going into coaching. My degree was actually in marketing. When I got to the Saints I quickly realized that scouting was intriguing. I would go down to that end of the [building] and start volunteering and it just kind of grew and grew and grew. There came a point where I [asked myself], 'Do I want to get into scouting or do I want to get into coaching?' I remember at that time [Packers head coach] Mike McCarthy was our offensive coordinator and we would talk about coaching a lot. I was just drawn to scouting; the whole process of scouting and finding players. I never had a problem standing on the table for somebody and verbalizing that."
LM: I've read online that you participated in an Ironman competition (consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon). How did that come about?
RP: "You're competitive and you're looking for something after college and I didn't want to just do a triathlon, so I wanted to check off an Ironman. I'm one of those guys if I set a goal I'm going to achieve it. So I knocked out Ironman Austria last June. The hard part is balancing family and work and all that, so I think my Ironman days are over."