There is something about the one-day contract that signifies a player’s retirement from the NFL that is so heart-warming that, frankly, it’s hard to put into words. Yesterday just felt right on many levels.
And you knew it was a big day when the stars of the present day and future were out to pay their respect:
— Brian Cassella (@briancassella) April 23, 2018
— Larry Mayer (@LarryMayer) April 23, 2018
- Chris Emma of 670 the Score explored the legacies Matt Forte and Devin Hester leave behind upon the signing of their one-day contracts and entering retirement from the NFL. Forte was a second-rounder who immediately grew into the team’s feature back and etched his name into the team’s record books next to Walter Payton, which says everything you need to know about his career with the Bears. And then there is Hester, a second-round converted cornerback who was a game-changer in the return game to the point where teams kicked away from him because they would rather not risk allowing a touchdown on a return.
- Let’s not forget the NFL changed where kickoffs took place as a response to Hester’s dominance in the return game, which is widely known as the Devin Hester Rule. You know you’re doing something big if folks are naming a rule after you.
- This line written by Pro Football Weekly’s Hub Arkush in his Forte-Hester piece really had me nodding my head in agreement: “It is perhaps ironic that two of the greatest Bears of all time also were two of the quietest and most soft spoken to wear the navy and orange.”
- Just something to think about. There’s a perspective from some that paints the Bears as a brash, smashmouth group, which probably dates back to the ’85 Super Bowl team. Neither Forte or Hester was that kind of player. Instead, each represented the blue-collar grinder who put in great work every day. Often, the best athletes don’t get praised for excellent work ethic or being a gym rat. Forte and Hester might fit the bill here as some of the most underrated hard-workers in Bears history.
- Kevin Fishbain put a significant Forte statistic into perspective in his piece over at The Athletic when he noted that Forte’s 12,718 scrimmage yards as a member of the Bears would be the most in franchise history for 14 other teams. That’s a testament to Forte’s talent, skill, durability, work ethic, and everything else that goes into being a productive football player. Forte was one of the league’s premier three-down backs, but it never felt like he received that kind of notoriety nationally. That’s a shame, he definitely earned it with how he played.
- There are a bunch of really good Forte-Hester reads out there. You can check out what was written by Rich Campbell (Tribune) and Patrick Finley (Sun-Times) in addition to what we linked above.
- And then there’s an interview between Hester and Jeff Joniak, the play-by-play guy behind the mic of his biggest plays:
Take a trip down memory lane with @D_Hest23.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 24, 2018
- Joniak also sat down with Forte, who provided more perspective and some closure on his pro career:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 24, 2018
- Man, was that guy underrated or what?
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 23, 2018
- After celebrating the past, the Bears now move on to preparing for what hopes to be a brighter future. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune offers up something to keep an eye on, marking the New York Giants as the team that holds the key to the best-case scenario unfolding for the Bears on draft day. Plenty of teams need a quarterback and the Giants taking one with the second pick could open the floodgates and start the run on quarterbacks that could lead to the Bears landing one of the draft’s premier prospects.
- A scenario where four quarterbacks go near the top would be quite beneficial for the Bears, who clearly believe Mitch Trubisky is their long-term solution at the position. If such a scenario unfolds, Chicago could be lined up to take an impact player. Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times believes the Bears should pick a defensive player if the team is truly set on landing a playmaker with the No. 8 pick. Potash highlights a pair of linebackers (Georgia’s Roquan Smith, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds) as the best candidates to fill that role. Both have upside as inside linebackers, and we know the Bears have quite the storied history at that particular position. It would be very Bears-y for the team to draft a player that position and watch them lead the defense that puts the team back on the path to greatness.
- Adam Hoge of WGN Radio shared the top-20 on his Bears Big Board, which pegs Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson as the player he would put on the top of the team’s board. Penn State running back Saquan Barkley, North Carolina State pass rusher Bradley Chubb, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith round out the top-5. Hoge underlines the importance of getting this pick right as the Bears should be looking to draft an immediate contributor and impact player with the No. 8 pick.
- Over at Bleacher Report, Zach Kruse lists the “dream” fit for every team in the 2018 NFL Draft. Kruse’s dream scenario for the Bears results in the team taking Nelson, who he believes is a “dominant interior blocker with an ideal combination of size, power and mindset” who might be the class’ best player. Then again, if Nelson is this kind of player for the Bears, he might nto make it to No. 8.
- Ah, yes. The ultimate cautionary tale of a highly regarded offensive line prospect. I’m not saying, I’m just saying:
Today in 1989, Sports Illustrated touts Tony Mandarich as best offensive line prospect ever. Would go second in draft to Green Bay (cut three yrs later). Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders go 3-4-5. #TodayInSports #NFLDraft @OldTakesExposed pic.twitter.com/DMFFpVtYUe
— TodayInSports Ⓥ (@TodayInSports3) April 24, 2018