The 2018 offseason was a master stroke for Ryan Pace. The Chicago Bears GM was on point from start to finish. He hired a new head coach in Matt Nagy who immediately galvanized the team towards a 12-4 record. He signed key free agents like Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton. Then he drafted Roquan Smith, James Daniels and Anthony Miller. All future starters. Oh, and he also traded for Khalil Mack.

These moves were instrumental in transforming the Bears into a playoff team. They won the division for the first time since 2010, beating the Green Bay Packers to clinch it. The defense was #1 in the league in almost every notable stat category. They even managed to get a Pro Bowl out of young quarterback Mitch Trubisky. That alone should’ve impressed pundits about what Pace had done.

Yet in the end, it wasn’t enough. During the NFL Honors ceremony awarding the top league awards for 2018, Pace was narrowly defeated by Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard for the Executive of the Year award. Bears fans were indignant. They argued Ballard didn’t face near the number of challenges Pace had.

However, angry as they may have been, new data reveals it’s probably best that the young GM didn’t win the award.

Ryan Pace would’ve faced a possible curse had he won

Josh Hermsmeyer of FiveThirtyEight did some research on past general managers who have won the Executive of the Year honor. He came to a startling realization. One that will remind football fans that it might be best not to tempt the football gods.

“Shockingly, this honor has become the front office equivalent of the Madden curse. Seven of the past 10 award winners have been fired. Of the three winners who still have jobs, one — Jerry Jones — is an owner who is unlikely to fire himself, and the other two are the most recent recipients: Howie Roseman in 2017 and Chris Ballard in 2018.”

2018Chris BallardIndianapolis ColtsActive
2017Howie RosemanPhiladelphia EaglesActive
2016Reggie McKenzieOakland RaidersFired Dec. 10, 2018
2015Mike MaccagnanNew York JetsFired May 15, 2019
2014Jerry JonesDallas CowboysOwner
2013John DorseyKansas City ChiefsFired June 22, 2017
2012Ryan GrigsonIndianapolis ColtsFired Jan. 21, 2017
2011Trent BaalkeSan Francisco 49ersFired Jan. 1, 2016
2010Scott PioliKansas City ChiefsFired Jan. 4, 2013
2009Bill PolianIndianapolis ColtsFired Jan. 3 2012

The basic idea behind this research is that any GM who has claimed the award is often gone within a period of five years. The only one who has managed to buck that curse is Mickey Loomis of the New Orleans Saints. He won it back in 2006 and remains in firm control of the franchise to this day. The fact he’s Pace’s mentor is a welcoming assurance.

Still, it’s probably best not to tempt fate.