Vic Fangio departs Chicago with laughs and a classy good-bye

Fangio tells Broncos audience of impact Bears had on his career.

There have been plenty of messy departures in sports, and some even occurred at Halas Hall.

But Vic Fangio and the Bears officially parted ways with complete mutual respect and friendship.

When Fangio officially became head Broncos coach Thursday and spoke to Denver reporters at his opening press conference, he expressed gratitude to and paid tribute to the Bears organization, in particular coach Matt Nagy and the McCaskey family.

"I first want to thank the Chicago Bears, Virginia and George McCaskey for running a honorable and first-class operation there," Fangio said. "It was a great experience for me there and I had nothing but good things and good feelings from leaving there."

Fangio even managed to get some of his own special sense of humor into his thank you. Clad in a suit and tie rather than his customary grey sweats, Fangio pointed out he had more than his past experience in Chicago to be thankful about to George McCaskey.

"And you can thank George," Fangio said. "I talked to George yesterday and I said to him 'George can I do the press conference tomorrow in my grey sweats?' He calls it my grey business suit.

"He said 'no you can't do that.' So he gave me this tie to wear so this tie is compliments of George McCaskey and the Chicago Bears."

When Fangio thanked both GM Ryan Pace and Nagy, he pointed to what Nagy went through as an example he can draw from in 2019 with the Broncos.

"Seeing Matt become a first-time head coach this year and also run the offense besides being the head coach has been a great resource for me for what I'm about to undertake," Fangio said. "And he did a tremendous job for the Chicago Bears and the Bears are lucky to have him."

Fangio's defense finished first in points allowed, fewest rushing yards allowed, interceptions (27), turnovers forced (36) and opposing passer rating. He pointed out the players are always the ones most responsible for any coach's success.

"Special thanks to the great group I just left in Chicago," Fangio said. "It's a special group, a group that I thoroughly enjoyed coaching and will miss coaching."

During the question-and-answer portion from media, it was asked what Khalil Mack meant when he called Fangio an "evil genius."

"Evil and genius, I think he meant it as a compliment, obviously," Fangio said. "I think it's more of a young person's term these days to combine those two words but I think Khalil when he got to us didn't know what to expect, obviously. It was under unusual circumstances, you know, a week before the regular season starts and I think what he it was alluding to in a little way was how quickly he was able to learn our system and be able to play immediately and play effectively and not hurt the team because of his lack of exposure to training camp etc.

"So I think not to put words in his mouth was how easy it was for him to transition in to our system that we believe is easy to learn is I believe what he's talking about."

The Bears issued statements from Pace and Nagy on Fangio.

“I want to thank Vic for his last four seasons as our defensive Coordinator and wish him the best as head coach of the Denver Broncos," Pace said. "Vic was a key leader in bringing great defense back to Chicago.

"We will continue to build upon the foundation he helped establish. Under the leadership of head coach Matt Nagy and the rest of his coaching staff, we are confident in the development and improvement of a talented defensive unit.”

Nagy called it a great opportunity for Fangio.

“There are only 32 of these jobs in the world and I know what it means to him to get his chance in Denver," Nagy said. "I also want to thank him for all his help in my first season with the Chicago Bears. It is bittersweet to move on, but he has more than earned this opportunity and I could not be happier for him.”

The Bears will now have three reunion-type games next year. They'll play Nagy's old team, Kansas City, and his mentor Andy Reid. They also face Fangio's Broncos. And Khalil Mack will play against his old team, the Raiders.