The Chicago Bears were a big part of the future success of Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard. He’s coming off the best year of his career as a talent evaluator. His nabbing of two All-Pros in Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard along with the hiring of Frank Reich as head coach propelled his team back to the playoffs just one year after their worst season in a long time.
This is why he was named Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America. Since then people have wanted to pick his brain about how he’s gotten to where he is. In a recent column for NBC Sports, he decided to write a detailed article on everything from his personal history to how he evaluates players today. The came across as humble and thankful to all those who help him reach this point.
Some notable people he thanked included former Bears GM Jerry Angelo as well as former coaches Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli. Three men who were considered instrumental for the last successful period of Bears football before the arrival of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy. However, there is one other notable Chicago name that Ballard is a big fan of.
Chris Ballard is a major admirer of Cubs guru Theo Epstein
One team builder whom Ballard sang major praises of was Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein. The Colts GM feels that the man is one of the great masterminds not just in baseball but all of professional sports. Turning around one team is hard enough to do. He’s done it twice, all while changing his entire approach to the job.
“One executive that I have tremendous respect for is Theo Epstein. I think he will go down in history as one of the best executives and leaders in sports. He has won three World Series in two different cities that were both suffering long droughts. Under his leadership, Boston won in 2004 and 2007 after not winning a title since 1918.
Theo and his staff did it again with the Chicago Cubs in 2016 to break a 108-year drought. His ability to adapt and grow after leaving Boston is very hard to do and what led to one of the great turnarounds in sports history. Epstein went from an analytical approach with the Red Sox to a character-based approach plus analytics with the Cubs.
Even though I am not a Cubs fan—I grew up in Texas City, close to Houston, and am a big Astros fan—I have great respect for the approach they have taken in Chicago.”
Epstein did tremendous work building the Cubs into a champion and has continued to keep the team competitive in the years since. If one were to look at Ballard’s approach in Indianapolis, they would see a number of similarities in terms of the type of athlete and character they seek out. A good reminder that despite their current struggles, the Cubs remain in good hands.