<
>

Saints' Mickey Loomis still a mentor for Bears' Ryan Pace

MOBILE, Ala. – Mickey Loomis said he feels like a proud father who watched his son graduate – for better and for worse – when asked about new Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace on Wednesday.

Loomis, the New Orleans Saints’ GM who worked with Pace for more than a decade as he climbed the scouting ranks, used that analogy Wednesday between Senior Bowl practices.

When asked if he's spoken with Pace, 37, since he became the NFL’s youngest general manager two weeks ago, Loomis said, “Yeah, more than a few times.”

“Well, first of all, if anybody has a son who’s graduated from high school or college, you know how excited and proud you are. And yet, he’s not your kid anymore. So it’s a little bit of that feeling,” Loomis said. “Look, I know that feeling of being overwhelmed right at first. But, man, he’s handled it well. He’s made a lot of great decisions already. He did a great job in his press conference. So I’m just proud of him.

“And we talk a little bit, mostly about personal things and how he’s doing, and a few questions here and there. So he’s gonna do well.”

When asked if Pace got the right coach in John Fox, Loomis said, “Yeah, absolutely.”

The Saints began moving on without Pace on Wednesday when Loomis announced the hiring of former Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland to oversee college scouting. It sounds like both Ireland and pro personnel director Terry Fontenot will both play key roles in filling the void left by Pace. Loomis described Fontenot as another future NFL GM.

Pace will certainly be missed, but Loomis repeated what he’s been saying for years – that he knew it was a matter of when, not if, Pace would get away.

“I knew years ago that Ryan Pace was gonna be a general manager, he was gonna have that opportunity,” Loomis said. “He was very patient. He’s had opportunities to interview in the past, he’s turned some of those down. But this one felt right for him. And, man, I’m excited for him.”

Pace also took longtime Saints scout Josh Lucas with him and named Lucas as his player personnel director. Lucas was one of two regional scouts for New Orleans.

“That’s a good opportunity for Josh. He’s a good scout. He’ll do a good job in Chicago. But, look, we’ve got a good staff there and we’ll make up that,” said Loomis, who said both men were under contract, but, “We’re in favor of our people getting opportunities.”

“That just tells me we’re hiring the right people; we’ve got the right people in our building,” Loomis said. “And we’ve got some behind them that are gonna be just as good. So I’m excited for those guys.”