WCIU-TV's Brandon Pope sat down with Bears general manager Ryan Poles and President & CEO Kevin Warren to highlight their journeys as Black history makers in Chicago.
The network aired Poles' interview Thursday night on their "On My Block Show," which can be viewed here. Warren's story will be shown on WCIU-TV Feb. 15.
Connecting with Bears general manager Ryan Poles and President & CEO Kevin Warren to share their stories during Black History Month was a special opportunity for WCIU-TV host Brandon Pope. As a journalist, Pope feels a deep passion for "continuing the legacy of telling Black history and Black stories."
"Telling Black history overall, telling the truth about Black history overall, I think is important for generations now and generations in the future, but also honors those in the past the right way," Pope said. "I am a product of Black history and I want to continue to help drive that forward."
Pope also left his conversations feeling motivated by both Poles and Warren being "two guys who look like me and who have similar experiences to me as a Black man."
"I just love what I do because I get to have great conversations with great people and I just got to have some good down-to-earth chats with two really down-to-earth people who are great leaders," Pope told ChicagoBears.com. "It's inspiring talking to them. It makes you want to run through a brick wall.
"I'm leaving here with so much energy and enthusiasm and drive. To have two guys like that at the top who are leading the direction of the organization going forward, I think it's a beautiful thing. I think it's a thing that demanded coverage and storytelling."
One of the many things Pope took away from his discussions was the work ethics the two have carried throughout their entire careers. He was impressed by Poles' self-drive after hearing the general manager say that he puts pressure on himself rather than worrying about any outside pressure.
Warren's overall leadership philosophy and desire to leave a strong legacy resonated with Pope as he continues on his own journey as a leader, currently serving as the president of the National Association of Black Journalists Chicago Chapter.
"Kevin said something about how he doesn't get to rest," Pope said. "He doesn't get to put things off, but that's the responsibility he has and it's one that he embraces. He embraces challenges, but also he doesn't believe in leaving things in disarray. He wants to leave things better than when he found them. I think those two things are remarkable and resonated with me, especially at this time in my life."
On top of his interviews with Poles and Warren, Pope was excited to visit Halas Hall and see the history throughout the building. Pope never expected his career to take him to Chicago, but the move allowed him to develop a deeper appreciation for a team he grew up watching.
"I've been here for about seven or eight years now and you can't escape it but nor do you want to," Pope said. "There's something about the fandom, the energy. I also came into Chicago at a time where the Bears as an organization are transforming in a really cool way."
While Pope was raised a Browns fan having grown up in Ohio, his admiration for the Bears as an "iconic franchise" started with recent Hall of Fame electee Devin Hester. Watching Hester return kickoffs and punts are some of Pope's earliest football memories.
"Usually in football you ignore the kick or punt returns," Pope said. "That's where you go get up and take a bathroom break or grab a beer or whatever. But for me it's like, no, you have to be seated and watch what Devin Hester does. I had never seen anything like that in my life. It made the Bears in a sense, almost appointment viewing because you just wanted to see — they had this electric guy — what's he going to do next?"