By now you've likely heard the story about how Bears chairman George H. McCaskey picked up Ryan Poles at O'Hare Airport when he arrived for his second interview for the general manager position.
McCaskey drove to the airport, paid $3 to park his car on the White Sox level of the garage and went inside to meet Poles at baggage claim. Before dropping him off at his hotel, McCaskey gave Poles a tour of Halas Hall.
"I wanted to show him that we care," McCaskey said at Monday's press conference introducing Poles and coach Matt Eberflus. "I wanted he and I to have the opportunity to speak one-on-one. And I wanted him to have the opportunity to see Halas Hall if he wanted, which he did."
Poles, who was offered and accepted the job hours after his second interview with the Bears' search team the next day, was touched by the gesture—and thanked McCaskey during Monday's press conference.
"George, I do have to single you out for a second," Poles said. "From the time I met you, I quickly realized you were a special man: dedicated, passionate and hungry to get this right. I still can't get over the fact that you met me at baggage claim and gave me a ride to the facility to get to know me at a deeper level. As you know, I value people and relationships and that told me everything I needed to know about you and this franchise."
During a radio interview this week, Hall of Fame NFL executive Bill Polian—who was part of the Bears' five-member search team to hire a general manager and coach—praised McCaskey for picking up Poles from the airport.
"The George McCaskey that picked Ryan up at the airport is the real deal," Polian said on the "Waddle and Silvy Show" on Chicago's ESPN 1000. "That's real, it wasn't contrived. That's George McCaskey to a tee. He's a great owner and a very humble man, and the Bears are in great hands with him in charge."
"I value people and relationships and that told me everything I needed to know about you and this franchise." New Bears GM Ryan Poles speaking to George H. McCaskey about being picked up from the airport by the team’s chairman
Early riser: Another thing that wasn't contrived was the video the Bears posted on their social media channels of Poles arriving for his first day of work before sunrise.
Poles told reporters that he typically gets into the office about 6 a.m.
"It's more than a first impression; it's a routine," Poles said. "I'm curious and I'm observant, and what I do know from those that I've worked for is your time is limited and if you can capture a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours at night when things are quiet, you can really maximize how much you do.
"And that's important to me because in the NFL things pop up all the time. You're really going to get pulled in different directions. So, I just know I can guarantee for the most part that those parts of the day I can get things done."
Helping hand: The second person that Poles hired after Eberflus was assistant general manager Ian Cunningham, who becomes the first individual to hold that title in Bears history.
Cunningham boasts 14 seasons of NFL experience, including the past five years with the Eagles. In Philadelphia, he served as director of college scouting (2017-18), assistant director of player personnel (2019-20) and director of player personnel (2021). Prior to joining the Eagles, Cunningham spent nine seasons with the Ravens as a player personnel assistant (2008-12) and area scout (2013-16).
"I thought it was important to bring someone else in with more experience from a different place," Poles said. "With Ian's background with the Ravens and then the Eagles, he's seen a lot from Howie Roseman and Ozzie Newsome. To add that experience is critical."
Glory days: During his introductory press conference, Poles reminisced about the summer of 2008 when he was an undrafted Bears rookie offensive lineman battling for a roster spot in training camp at Olivet Nazarene University.
"The Bears and Chicago have long been a part of me, starting in 2008 when I was an undrafted free agent here," Poles said. "Funny story, I remember being back in Bourbonnais in the dorm, being woken up in the middle of the night, with the tornado sirens going off and the tornado had hit the ground not too far away.
"They shuttled us down to the basement in the middle of the night and everyone was groggy, but there was a moment I picked up my head, in the basement of this dorm was the laundry room and I saw Bears legends Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Peanut Tillman, Devin Hester and Olin Kreutz as we waited out the storm."
Chicago is also special to Poles because that's where he proposed to his wife, Katie.
"I'm proud of this," he said with a smile. "I rented a sailboat and I took my future wife out past Navy Pier where I took a knee and proposed to her. It just so happened fireworks went off right about that time and, yes, I took credit for it. It was all part of the plan."