Ruskell joins Bears' front office
Joining the Bears with 23 seasons of experience, Ruskell played a role in two teams -- the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle -- advancing to the Super Bowl, and three -- Tampa Bay, Seattle and the Atlanta Falcons -- making it to the NFC Championship Game.
Ruskell served the past five seasons as president of football operations and general manager of the Seahawks. He resigned in 2009 in the midst of a 4-7 season, after his team posted a 4-12 record the previous year.
"Getting back to what I love: personnel," Ruskell said when asked what excites him most about the move. "[It's] my first love and my expertise, it's what I enjoy doing the most of all the things I've done in the National Football League. Just getting back into that big-time, and working with these guys, that's what excites me the most."
Having worked closely with Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo in Tampa Bay from 1987 to 2000, Ruskell's hiring seemed like a logical and inevitable move for the Bears. In fact, it was Ruskell who replaced Angelo as the Buccaneers director of player personnel.
"Communication is such a big thing in this business, any business, certainly in the sports business in terms of the front office," Ruskell said. "Having that relationship already established, and having worked with some of those guys, I just think it tears down some of the barriers you have to fight through and get right to the matters at hand."
Ruskell's new position places him directly beneath Angelo in the club's personnel hierarchy. Angelo cleared the way to bring aboard Ruskell by firing Bobby DePaul, former director of pro personnel in February, in addition to making a decision Tuesday to not renew the contract of Greg Gabriel, former director of college scouting.
"Real excited to get him here,"Angelo said. "He brings a plethora of knowledge. He's worked at every level ... scout, director, general manager. So he's done a lot of things that will be a great asset to the club and [I'm] real excited to have him on board.
"Irrelevant of our friendship, which had nothing to do with this. This is about making us a better organization. [I] feel very good about him. [I] would never have brought anybody in here just to bring somebody in. I feel real good about what he brings in terms of experience, his work ethic ... I think he'll be a great fit."
Ruskell will take authority of both the college and pro personnel departments. He brings to Chicago a track record of success.
During his first year in Seattle, Ruskell played a role in the club winning a franchise-record 13 games on the way to an NFC title and an appearance in Super Bowl XL. The Seahawks won three NFC West titles and four playoff outings on Ruskell's watch. Before he arrived, Seattle had won just three division titles and three playoff games in the previous 29 years.
"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Ruskell said of taking over college and pro personnel departments. "As the general manager and assistant general manager in Atlanta, that's what I did. I was kind of in both areas.
"I've been ingrained in both for the last 10 to 12 years, so it just feels natural to me. I think one begets the other, and I think it's going to be helpful that one guy is involved with both and communicating with Jerry about what's out there."
Ruskell served as Atlanta's assistant general manager in 2004, a season in which the Falcons won the AFC South in addition to advancing to the NFC championship.
Prior to that, Ruskell spent 17 seasons in Tampa Bay's personnel department, starting his NFL career in 1987 as a regional scout, before being named director of college scouting in 1992. Ruskell became Tampa Bay's director of player personnel in 2001, and worked in that capacity for three seasons.
Under Ruskell's direction, the Buccaneers won the 2002 Super Bowl and advanced to the playoffs in five of his seven seasons with two appearances in the NFC title game.
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com. Jeff Dickerson contributed to this report.
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