WWE superstar Roman Reigns: 'I wanted to be a Chicago Bear'


WWE superstar Roman Reigns: 'I wanted to be a Chicago Bear'

He may look like a natural in the ring, but wrestling wasn't always the first passion for WWE superstar Roman Reigns.

Reigns, who will headline WrestleMania 32 in a WWE Championship match with Triple H Sunday night at AT&T Stadium, appeared on track for a lengthy NFL career rather than follow in the footsteps of his WWE Hall of Fame father Leati "Sika" Anoa'i.

Reigns (Joseph Anoa'i) starred at Escambia High School in his hometown of Pensacola, Fla. before earning a scholarship at Georgia Tech. Anoa'i finished his collegiate career with 10 tackles, 29.5 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks, garnering All-ACC honors at defensive tackle.

After not getting selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, Anoa'i was signed by the Minnesota Vikings. He was cut late in the preseason before brief stints in Jacksonville and with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL. 

Reigns decided to hang up his cleats following the 2008 CFL season before embarking on his promising wrestling career. 

[SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

While it's almost a certainty we'll never see Reigns strap on the shoulder pads in the NFL, it's interesting to think about what the Bears defensive line may have looked like if it were up to Reigns nearly 10 years ago.

During a promotional tour for Snickers, Reigns told told that he visited the Bears before the 2007 NFL Draft and was sold on everything they had to offer.

"It's funny. That was one of the teams I interviewed for before the draft and everything," Reigns said. "I actually came up to Chicago and took a trip. I got to meet the head coach Lovie (Smith) at the time and I was sold. I wanted to be a Chicago Bear immediately. But unfortunately it didn't work out, but we found the right team."

Check out the complete interview in the video above and see what else Reigns had to say about his upcoming match at WrestleMania 32.

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

The first major move of Ryan Pace’s 2018 offseason hit on Tuesday, as NFL Network reported the Bears will not exercise Josh Sitton’s $8 million option for 2018. 

The move accomplishes two things for the Bears: 1) It frees up about $8 million in cap space and 2) Removes a veteran from the offensive line and creates a hole to fill, presumably by a younger free agent or draft pick. 

The 31-year-old Sitton signed a three-year deal with the Bears after Green Bay cut him just before the 2016 season, and was a Pro Bowler his first year in Chicago. Sitton played 26 of 32 games in two years with the Bears, but him being on the wrong side of 30 was likely the biggest factor here. If the Bears saw his skills eroding, releasing him now and netting the cap savings while going younger at the position does make sense. 

“Going younger” doesn’t guarantee the Bears will draft Notre Dame brawler Quenton Nelson, though that did become a greater possibility with Tuesday’s move. Nelson might be one of the two or three best offensive players in this year’s draft, and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand knows him well from the four years they spent together at Notre Dame. 

There’s a natural fit there, of course, but a few reasons to slow the Nelson-to-Chicago hype train: Would he even make it to No. 8? Or if he’s there, is taking a guard that high worth it when the Bears have needs at wide receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback? Still, the thought of Nelson — who absolutely dominated at Notre Dame — pairing with Hiestand again is tantalizing, and Nelson very well could step into any team’s starting lineup and be an immediate Pro Bowler as a rookie. 

If the Bears go younger in free agency, Matt Nagy knows 26-year-old guard Zach Fulton (No. 25 in Bleacher Report’s guard rankings) well from their time in Kansas City. Fulton — a Homewood-Flossmoor alum — has the flexibility to play both guard positions and center, which could open the door for Cody Whitehair to be moved to left guard, the position he was initially drafted to play (though the Bears do value him highly as a center, and keeping him at one position would benefit him as opposed to moving him around the line again). There are some other guys out there — like Tennessee’s Josh Kline or New York’s Justin Pugh — that could wind up costing more than Fulton in free agency. 

Or the Bears could look draft an offensive lineman after the first round, perhaps like Ohio State’s Billy Price, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn or UTEP’s Will Hernandez. How the Bears evaluate guards at the NFL Combine next week will play an important role in how they go about replacing Sitton. 

The trickle-down effect of releasing Sitton will impact more than the offensive line, too. Freeing up his $8 million in cap space -- which wasn't a guarantee, unlike cutting Jerrell Freeman and, at some point, Mike Glennon -- could go toward paying Kyle Fuller, or another top cornerback, or a top wide receiver, or some combination of players at those positions (as well as outside linebacker). The Bears were already in a healthy place cap-wise; that just got healthier on Tuesday. 

Bears cut ties with linebacker Jerrell Freeman

Bears cut ties with linebacker Jerrell Freeman

The Bears began their slew of offseason moves by releasing inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Freeman, 31, signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Bears in 2016.

In his first year in Chicago he amassed 110 tackles in 12 games but was suspended four games for PED use. He played in just one game lsat season before suffering a pectoral injury that placed him on IR. He then tested positive again for a performance-enhancing drug, resulting in a 10-game suspension that bleeds over into 2018 for two more games, wherever he winds up.