John Bostrom of Arlington Heights still remembers when he quit playing college basketball to spend more time as an intern with the Chicago Bears. It was in 1985 and he was a junior at Lake Forest College. He worked so hard, he was tapped to be part of the advance team that went to New Orleans, to prepare for the Bears to play in the Super Bowl.
“I tend to think I made the right decision,” says Bostrom with a laugh, now in his 38th year with the team.
On Sunday, at the home opener against the San Francisco 49ers, Bostrom will be the point person between the NFL’s football operations team and the Bears. After all these years, and all the different responsibilities he has held, Bostrom says he still gets excited for the start of the new season.
“So much goes on behind the scenes before the opening kickoff,” Bostrom says, “and I thrive on that.”
In reflecting on his long career, Bostrom realizes that only Ted Phillips, president and CEO, who joined the club in 1983, has been in the front office longer.
In recognition of Bostrom’s work and commitment to the team, he was selected — in the 100th year of the Chicago Bears — to receive the Virginia Award. The award is given to a Bears employee who has demonstrated the characteristics and values of Virginia McCaskey: grace, humility, loyalty and dedication.
“That meant a ton to me,” Bostrom says, “especially knowing what the award stands for.”
Yet, Bostrom stands out in the front office for another reason: for all of his institutional knowledge accrued over the years. Consider that he has gone from assistant director of public relations, to managing promotions and advertising, as well as community relations; to serving as senior director of administration, vice president of business administration and vice president of operations, and all before assuming his current role in 2018.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of onsite training in a variety of roles and responsibilities,” Bostrom says. “They’ve kept me fresh, passionate and driven.
“I’m familiar with a lot of what has happened over the years,” he adds, “and now with a new general manager and head coach I’m adapting to a new culture and operations. It still challenges me, it still drives me.”