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John Fox’s reputation certainly preceded him before he came to the Chicago Bears. He’d led winning teams in Carolina and Denver. But his tenure in Chicago was marred by frustration and an abundance of losses.

During his three-year tenure as Bears coach, Fox had a 14-34 record, including back-to-back-to-back last-place finishes in the NFC North.

The Bears fired him after a 5-11 season in 2017, with a top-10 defense and rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, and brought in Matt Nagy to succeed him. In his first season, Nagy led the Bears to a 12-4 record and an NFC North championship.

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At the Bears100 celebration, one of the most talked-about panels featured Bears defensive linemen from past and present. When someone mentioned Nagy, Hall of Fame defensive tackle Dan Hampton took a shot at Fox.

“Thank God John Fox’s ass is out of town,” Hampton said. “Thank God.”

Hampton wasn’t the only member of the 1985 team to criticize Fox. Former safety Gary Fencik had his own opinion about Fox, although more diplomatic.

“What I find refreshing, I liked John Fox, but John Fox didn’t treat fans with respect,” Fencik said. “And I’m a [Bears] fan. I’m a season-ticket holder. And it was kind of like, ‘You don’t deserve to know,’ or ‘I’m not going to give you a lot of information.’

“What I really like about Matt is I think he recognizes and respects that the fans aren’t idiots.”

Nagy is well-respected and loved by his players and staff. But he’s also widely respected by former Bears, who are now fans.

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Khalil Mack did more than just pose for pictures and sign autographs last weekend at the Chicago Bears’ three-day centennial celebration.

Mack used the festive occasion to pick the brain of Bears Hall of Fame pass-rusher Richard Dent, who was more than willing to offer any and all tips to Mack during the course of a conversation that lasted approximately 30 minutes.
Khalil Mack says he’s eager to put Richard Dent’s tips into practice. Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports
“Talking to Richard Dent was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend,” Mack said on Tuesday at the beginning of the Bears’ three-day mandatory minicamp. “Getting his input on the game. After I talked to him, I went back and watched the highlights to see what he actually did here during his career. It was very special.

“You can tell he still loves the game and he wanted to teach everything he knew in one little sitting. It was cool to chat with him for about 30 minutes.”

Dent, the MVP of Super Bowl XX, is the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks with 124.5. He also holds the club records for most sacks in a season (17.5) and a game (4.5).

Dent became a full-time starter for the Bears in 1984 and went on to record 10 or more sacks in eight of the following 10 seasons. At the time of his retirement, Dent ranked third on the all-time sacks list.

“Man … dominant,” Mack said of Dent. “A dominant force coming off the edge. The things that he showed me are exactly what he did. The same things. Just understanding angles and understanding — he kept telling me about basketball, how you check up somebody in basketball. The same way he kind of put his elbow on somebody is the same thing I saw on the film.”

By virtue of spending his first four years in Oakland, Mack, 28, may fall short of breaking Dent’s all-time Bears’ sack record, but Mack could one day lay claim to the title of Chicago’s most feared pass-rusher.

A former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Mack had 12.5 sacks for the Bears last season, without the benefit of having any participation in the offseason program or training camp; Chicago traded for Mack prior to Week 1 of the 2018 regular season.

Mack has been a fixture at the Bears’ facility during this year’s offseason workouts, and the expectations for Mack in Year 2 are even higher.

But the real question: Can Mack use any of the advice Dent passed on to him?

“Hell yeah,” Mack said with a smile.

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Mike Ditka walks the Orange Carpet during the Chicago Bears convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Friday Mark Black
Bears coach Matt Nagy said Mike Ditka was the favorite person he talked to during the team’s 100th-year celebration.

“He’s always himself,” Nagy said. “He doesn’t try and be different for anybody, that’s stating the obvious.”

Nagy said that Ditka gave him a good piece of advice — albeit obvious — on Friday night.

“He was chewing his gum,” Nagy said. “He said, ‘You know, there’s really good football players and then there’s not-so-good players. Get rid of the not-so-good players.’

“And I was like waiting for a point. And then I started thinking about it, that’s pretty easy, you know. So that’s what I want to do.”

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1990 Playoffs: Lost in Divisional Round

1991 Season: 11-5 (Lost in Wild Card Round)

The 1990 season saw Chicago go 11-5 but lose in the divisional round to the New York Giants. Chicago backed that up with an 11-5 record in 1991 with another playoff appearance.

Chicago jumped out to a 9-2 record during the 1991 season before losing three of its final five games. That culminated in the Bears getting knocked out of the playoffs in the Wild Card round against the Dallas Cowboys.

Jim Harbaugh started all 16 games for the Bears that season. He completed 275 of his 478 passing attempts for 3,121 yards with 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Neal Anderson ran for 747 yards on 210 carries and scored six touchdowns. Brad Muster ran the ball 90 times for 412 yards with six rushing touchdowns. Wendell Davis led the way in the passing game with 61 receptions for 945 yards with six touchdowns. Tom Waddle caught 55 passes for 599 yards with three touchdowns that season.

Richard Dent recorded 10.5 sacks that season.

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1985 Bears Jim McMahon, William Perry and Steve McMichael take the stage during the Chicago Bears convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Friday in Rosemont. Mark Black
The 1985 Bears have won homecoming king 34 years running.

That was particularly clear during the three-day Bears100 Celebration Weekend, which the franchise touted as the largest gathering of past and current players ever. The event, which ended Sunday, might have been the largest assembly of Bears fans outside a stadium, too. The team estimated between 8,000 and 10,000 walked into the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont each day, coming from all 50 states and seven countries.

No former players got the same reactions as the 1985 Bears. And no other players carried themselves the way they still do.

What does it feel like to be a member of the Bears’ most famous team? Former defensive end Steve McMichael, who moments earlier had compared himself to Howard Stern, tried to make a comparison Friday.

‘‘It’s like every year someone is voted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,’’ he said. ‘‘But you’re already in there and get to party with them.’’

He tried another analogy.

‘‘It’s what ‘Gladiator’ meant,’’ he said. ‘‘Russell Crowe said, ‘Your name echoes through eternity.’ That’s some pride, isn’t it?’’

There’s a reason matriarch Virginia McCaskey called the 1985 Bears a ‘‘very unusual team’’ Sunday. McMichael joked that, in 1985, reporters could put a microphone in front of players and not even have to ask a question. The players just would start talking.

Or rapping. One of the largest ovations of the weekend came when former defensive tackle William ‘‘Refrigerator’’ Perry recreated his ‘‘Super Bowl Shuffle’’ verse — ‘‘You’re lookin’ at the Fridge, I’m the rookie/I may be large, but I’m no dumb cookie,’’ it begins — on stage Saturday.
Late running back Walter Payton would have brought mischief to the convention.

‘‘You probably couldn’t stand there if he was in the room,’’ Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent said, ‘‘because you’d want to know where he was at. Because he’d probably be up to something, knowing Walter.’’

Former quarterback Jim McMahon said the 1985 Bears were ‘‘the team that had the most fun — and won.’’

Former center Jay Hilgenberg first declared the current dancing, trick-play-running iteration of the game more fun. Then he thought about it.

‘‘Actually, I doubt that,’’ he said. ‘‘They just show it [more].’’

Former coach Mike Ditka, Hilgenberg said, curbed the players’ on-field behavior. But their off-the-field attitude spread across the world.

Former safety Gary Fencik was on a helicopter ride outside Melbourne, Australia, two years ago when he struck up a conversation with a stranger about playing for the Bears.

‘‘Our brand is so strong that it’s global,’’ he said.

Many consider the 1985 Bears’ defense the best of all time. Chief among them are the players themselves.

‘‘I think the similarities [to this year’s team] are, you have to have a lot of talent,’’ Fencik said. ‘‘It becomes a process, and they’re going to have to go through that.

‘‘You can have one great year, but it doesn’t really matter. Do you wear the ring at the end of the day? [That’s] all that matters.’’

As the franchise enters its 100th season, only one Bears team has that Super Bowl ring.

‘‘The guys I played with, I’m in awe,’’ Dent said. ‘‘I think I played with quite a few Hall of Famers.’’

The convention boasted four — linebacker Mike Singletary, defensive tackle Dan Hampton, Ditka and Dent — from the 1985 team alone. Whenever they’re together next, those players will remain the Bears’ homecoming kings.

That is, unless — until? — the franchise wins another Super Bowl.

‘‘It’s really pretty amazing to think that much time has passed and all those things happened,’’ Singletary said.

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The Bears will kick off their 100th season fan convention without one of the best players in franchise history.

Brian Urlacher tweeted this afternoon that he was forced to withdraw from the event because he is sick.

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend,” he wrote. “Something I ate must have got the best of me. Sorry I won’t be able to see all you Bears fans!”

He decorated his tweet with some colorful emojis to illustrate how he’s feeling.
Brian Urlacher

Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend the Bears ☹️ @ChicagoBears Something I ate must have got the best of me . Sorry I won’t be able see all you bears fans! #beardown

1:17 AM – Jun 8, 2019
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Urlacher was scheduled to walk the orange carpet tonight to launch the Bears 100 event and was to be part of a panel with fellow Hall of Fame linebackers Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary on Saturday morning.

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ROSEMONT, Ill. – There may be no better example of a local boy who made good than Dick Butkus.

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, he starred at Chicago Vocational High School and the University of Illinois before becoming a Hall of Famer with the Bears. Butkus played all eight of his NFL seasons with the Monsters of the Midway from 1965-73 and remains one of the most popular players in the franchise’s illustrious history.

“It’s kind of a unique position because I don’t think many players actually have done that,” Butkus told at the Bears100 Celebration in Rosemont. “I feel very lucky. My parents got to see probably 95 percent of the games that were in Chicago, so it was good for my family and I liked it.”

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Butkus was selected by the Bears with the third pick in the 1965 NFL Draft, one spot ahead of longtime teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Gale Sayers. The middle linebacker was also chosen in the first round of the AFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. But he opted to sign with his hometown team and the more established league.

“Playing for someone who was involved in football since I can remember, who’s better to play for than a guy like George Halas that started it all?” Butkus said. “I just felt that everything happened for a reason.”

Butkus immediately emerged as a star. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight NFL seasons and was a six-time first-team All-Pro. The Chicago native was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for both the 1960s and 1970s and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979 in his first year of eligibility.

Butkus was known as a ferocious defender who played with a potent combination of intimidation, aggression and hostility.

“If I had a choice, I’d sooner go one-on-one with a grizzly bear,” Packers running back MacArthur Lane once said. “I pray that I can get up after every time Butkus hits me.”

Looking back, Butkus doesn’t think there was anything special about the level of intensity he played with.
“I thought that was the way that everybody should have played,” Butkus said. “But I guess they didn’t because they were claiming that I had a special way of playing.

“You try to intimidate the person that you’re playing against and hit him hard enough so that sooner or later he’s going to start worrying about getting hit and forget about holding the ball. If it stood out, I guess no one else was doing it as much.”

Interestingly, the most memorable moment of Butkus’ career did not occur on defense. It came late in a 1971 game against the Redskins when the Bears were attempting an extra point to snap a 15-15 tie. Bobby Douglass scrambled to recover a bad snap, rolled to his left and lofted the ball into the end zone to Butkus, who caught the pass to give the Bears a thrilling 16-15 victory.

“Earlier in the game a shoe or something got through my mask and hit me in the eye,” Butkus said. “During the course of the game it started swelling, like a boxer.”

With his depth perception affected by the injury, Butkus leaped to catch the ball—even though he didn’t have to.

“I jumped, but I could have just stood there and caught it,” he said with a smile. “When I saw the film I thought, ‘What am I jumping for?’ It was right there.”

Butkus has enjoyed reminiscing about that play and many other memories at this weekend’s Bears100 Celebration. As you’d expect, he received a thunderous ovation when he was introduced at Friday night’s opening ceremonies.

“It feels special because the fans here are pretty knowledgeable,” Butkus said. “It’s a reinforcement that I must have been doing the right things because people notice that and it seems like I’m always welcome when I come back.”

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Current Chicago Bears players got to meet team legends in the recent Bears100 Celebration convention last weekend. The legends dished out advice and inspired the younger players.
The Chicago Bears recently hosted their Bears100 Celebration convention. Team and fans alike got to celebrate the 100th season in franchise history. The public got to see relics from the storied history of the franchise and hear stories about some of the greatest times.

Current and former players attended the convention. Some of the Bears’ biggest legends told their stories and lent some of their experiences to the younger players. Today’s players want to get back to the franchise’s heyday so they soaked up all the words they received. They want to reach the levels that the legends attained.

Here is what inspired some of today’s players:

Jim McMahon, also known as the Punky QB, was a force of nature in Chicago. He walked to the beat of his own drum. He wasn’t the greatest quarterback in Chicago Bears history, but he was the most colorful and exciting. There was never a dull moment with him around.

McMahon spoke about what earning the Bears fans‘ love does for a player, via

This town has always been a Bear town. It’s always going to be a Bear town. This is a hard-working town and these fans appreciate hard-working players. They know who plays hard and who doesn’t. If you play hard for Chicago, they’ll love you. And if you play hard and win, they’ll love you forever.

Mitch Trubisky is the team leader now. He took McMahon’s words and follows them, per the Chicago Tribune.

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I think the two things in Chicago are that you just have to play with a lot of confidence. And then you have to have thick skin. You just have to continue to give it your all, improve your game and put your heart into this and into practices. Love the fans, wins games and they’ll love you back.

Trubisky already knows about having thick skin. Despite looking like he has a good head on his shoulder, he’s taken a lot of criticism ever since the Bears moved up one spot and gave up draft assets to grab him in the 2017 NFL Draft. Many so-called experts said he wasn’t a franchise quarterback.

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After a so-so rookie campaign with an offensively deficient coaching staff, those same people said Trubisky would hold the Bears back now that they had an offensive guru. General manager Ryan Pace overhauled the offense, adding better weapons around him. All Trubisky did was lead the Bears to a division title and, despite losing the playoff game, he had a good game and did what he needed to do at the end to win.

Trubisky also has plenty of confidence. He doesn’t care what the “experts” or his opponents say about him, he just continues to work and improve his game. He’ll be a fan-favorite just like McMahon, just not with all the theatrics. Even so, he said he might break out the headband this season, so some of McMahon might rub off on him.

The Chicago Bears have a rich history of having great linebackers. They are second to none when it comes to the NFL’s greatest linebackers. They can boast about having Bill George, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher. When the Bears get a linebacker, he has some big shoes to fill.
The person trying to fill those shoes now is Roquan Smith. He was the Bears’ first-round pick (No. 8 overall) in last year’s draft. He made last year’s All-Rookie Team despite not having a training camp or preseason (he held out in a contract dispute). Having a complete offseason this year, the team expects a great deal from him in 2019.

Smith felt great when talking with two legends, the aforementioned Butkus and Otis Wilson, a star linebacker from the ’80s and a member of the Super Bowl XX winning team in 1985. Both Butkus and Wilson told Smith to play the way they did — violently. Wilson urged him to go after the quarterback and of course, Butkus wanted him to hit him hard when he got there.

Smith obviously can’t play as violently as Butkus and Wilson could in their day, but he could still put a hurting on quarterbacks. He has Chuck Pagano as his defensive coordinator now and that probably means a more aggressive defense than the one that took the field in 2018.

Safety Eddie Jackson‘s play has him among the best safeties in the league. Therefore, he was excited to be in the presence of Gary Fencik, Doug Plank, and Mike Brown, per

It was a blessing. It was a fun experience. Anytime you get to do that and meet guys that have been here before you and did the things they’ve done who now have gold jackets, it’s always a fun experience.

Leave it to Khalil Mack to tie everything together and say what the weekend meant to everyone, also via the team’s official website:
It’s all love, it’s all family. Ultimately, they have our best interests. Just little things, even off the field, seeing who we know that can help us with certain things, even down to massages and all different kinds of stuff. Just learning from them and hearing from them was huge.

NEXT: Grading each NFL team’s 2019 offseason
The weekend was a special one for the Chicago Bears and their fans. It gives an aura to this team, that something special is in the air. Hopefully, it extends throughout the season and we get to see Virginia McCaskey celebrate at Club Dub at the end of it.

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CHICAGO – OCTOBER 24: Former player Gayle Sayers of the Chicago Bears is introducted to the crowd before a game against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Gale Sayers drew one more thunderous ovation from the Chicago crowd.

Six Hall of Famers and 230 past and present players and coaches were on hand as the Bears kicked off their 100th anniversary celebration weekend on Friday. When Sayers was wheeled onto the stage, the roar from the crowd could have drowned out the jets at nearby O’Hare International Airport.

Sayers has been weakened by dementia, which was diagnosed five years ago. But the 76-year-old Sayers still made the 130-mile trip from his home in Wakarusa, Indiana.

Sayers showed up wearing his gold Hall of Fame jacket and a blue and white cap with the number 40. He wiped his left eye as his old teammate Dick Butkus, Dan Hampton and Richard Dent stood clapping onstage.

Moments later, Mike Singletary came out. And with Mike Ditka also there, the Bears had six Hall of Famers onstage at once.

When it was time for the group to leave a few minutes later, Sayers hunched over as Singletary wheeled him away. It was hard to tell if he was weeping. But there might have been a few tears shed in the room.

“That’s a tough thing,” Butkus said. “I call and check on him quite frequently, and it’s a sad deal. You’ve just got to be thankful with what you’ve got. I’ve got my problems with neuropathy and my balance. But I’ve got no pain. At least I still know who I am. I’m happy about that.”

Sayers’ situation makes this weekend, in some ways, a bittersweet celebration.

The “Kansas Comet” was a two-time All-American for the Jayhawks and dazzled with the Bears in a career that lasted just seven seasons because of knee injuries. He was a five-time All-Pro who remains the youngest player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, enshrined at 34 in 1977.

He was Rookie of the Year in 1965 after being drafted one spot behind Butkus with the No. 4 overall pick. He scored six touchdowns in a win over San Francisco at muddy Wrigley Field that season and made four Pro Bowls before hanging it up in 1971.

“He looked like he was gliding,” Ditka said. “I mean, the field was muddy. Everybody was slipping and sliding, except him. It was the most unbelievable exhibition I’ve seen in the history of the game. There probably was nothing like that. Just a great, great guy. Great guy. Gale was humble, never said a whole lot. But he was a super football player.”

Ditka was glad to be part of the festivities. The Hall of Fame tight end and iconic coach of the 1985 Super Bowl champion Bears had a heart attack on a golf course in November.

He said he has cut back on smoking cigars, often opting to chew an unlit one instead.

“Life is a gift from God. And what we do with it, he’s going to give back to you,” Ditka said. “I’m hoping he’ll give me a few more years around, and I’ll try to do the best I can with it.”

Gary Fencik, the two-time Pro Bowl safety who played on the Super Bowl championship team, said the event is special. He’s from Chicago and holds Bears season tickets.

“You don’t really think about that you’re part of the history of any organization,” he said. “It’s not that I haven’t read about the Bears’ history or the NFL. But this gets you a little more focused on that — and that you are a part of a very important fabric to the city and the NFL.”

Jim McMahon, the “Punky QB” on the ’85 team, called Chicago “a special place.”

“I’ve always loved this town, lived here for 28 years — almost half my life,” he said. “All my kids were born and raised here. It’s a special place. And this was a special team that I was involved with.”

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With the Chicago Bears 100 celebration behind us, it’s time to say a special thank you to an all-time legend.
Fairly regularly, I am asked the question ‘how did you become a Chicago Bears fan?’ While that may seem like an innocuous question, a little context may be in order.

First, I currently live in the South, not even remotely close to Chicago. So when asked the question, what typically follows is ‘you must be from Chicago.’ However, they become even more perplexed when I reveal I grew up in Upstate New York — again, nowhere near the Windy City. Now dumbfounded, they ask again –‘how the heck did you end up a Bears fan?’

The answer is simple — Walter Payton.

Growing up, I was a huge baseball fan and would routinely be glued to the television — even at the age of three — to watch my beloved New York Yankees. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I began to watch football, which just so happened to coincide with the 1985 season.

At that point, I became glued to the television anytime the Bears were on — which admittedly wasn’t often. There was no Sunday Ticket, or Reddit, or streaming options. Basically, I had to hope the Bears played the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, or New York Jets or had a nationally televised game. The only other option was Monday Night Football, which would always result in me getting grounded for sneaking out of bed to tune in. Let’s just say as I kid I had a hard time containing my excitement following a big play and consequently would wake up the house. However, I couldn’t get enough of the Bears as a kid, and especially during that season.

Now yes, the Super Bowl Shuffle was catchy and left an impression on a youngster just getting into the sport. Yet it was Payton who not only drew me in but left me captivated. Even at a young age, it was clear I was witnessing greatness.

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The way he carried himself on the field made it clear, even to someone who knew nothing about football, that he was elite. There were certain players whom you knew were role models, and did things the right way. It’s funny how, not knowing a thing about the game, I immediately gravitated to Payton.

He had no idea that in that moment, and in that season, he would leave such an impression on a child that it would blossom into a love for a team that has only grown stronger each year.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.
· Jun 9, 2019
So many #Bears fans have the same story as I do. Watching Walter Payton run the ball made us fans. He was such a damn good football player and it was incredible to watch him play the game.

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.
With the #Bears100 celebration taking place, I want to know…

How did you become a fan of the Chicago #Bears? …
Patrick Sheldon
He’s the reason a 5 year-old from upstate New York is a die hard Bears fan today.

6:40 PM – Jun 9, 2019
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He was the reason I tried to get my hands on any Bears paraphernalia I could, to include that sweet Walter Payton uniform being modeled in the above picture. To this day, I have not gotten over the atrocity of being robbed in that Halloween costume competition. But I digress.

Regardless, he is the reason I continued watching through the lean years but remained as passionate a fan as ever. Why I threw passes as a child to a bush across the street and pretended it was Tom Waddle. He’s why a teenager, nearly 19-years ago, was shattered when he learned the news of Walter’s passing. He was an otherworldly football player but was twice the human being, which is why the passing of a man I never met still impacted me deeply.
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He is the reason I continue to root for the Bears to this day and why I have been able to connect to a network of other Bears fans around the world through writing for this site and social media.

Walter Payton was a lot of things to many people, but most importantly for me, when asked why I am a Chicago Bears fans, he is the answer — and for that, I say ‘thank you.’