SANTA CLARA -- Khalil Mack still has a house in San Ramon. His dog and some family live there, even though the All-Pro edge rusher now plays in Chicago.
The Raiders traded him to the Bears on Sept. 1, just before the NFL regular season began, so he didn’t have time to pack or fully move or get situated. He got to the Windy City, signed a record six-year, $141 million contract and went to work.
Despite a prolonged contract impasse with the Raiders, Mack wasn’t expecting to be shipped to the Bears. He didn’t plan for it. Ultimately, it helped achieve two offseason goals.
Mack got paid and now plays for a winner that just so happens to reside in a massive, sports-obsessed media market that fell in love at first sack.
Mack has 12.5 of them now, and he has been the defensive MVP of a Chicago Bears team that won the NFC North, has 11 wins and counting after Sunday’s 14-9 victory over the 49ers, and plays the type of defense that wins playoff games.
So, when Mack was asked how he thought the trade from Oakland to Chicago worked, he answered the question with a question.
“How do you think it worked out?” Mack said Sunday in Levi’s Stadium’s visiting locker room. “I think it’s pretty obvious to me. Ultimately, you have the end goal of getting to the [Super Bowl]. That’s the only thing on my mind.”
Mack had tunnel vision during his first trip back to the Bay Area since he was traded to Chicago for a package that included two first-round picks.
He didn’t have time to go home for a spell, pet the dog and sleep in his own bed. The Bears flew into San Jose and stayed near Levi’s Stadium. Traffic apps said it would take roughly 90 minutes to get home and 90 back to the team hotel, so it wasn’t worth the trip.
Mack was back on a plane to Illinois on Sunday night, and he didn't have time to see the few remaining Raiders teammates still on this year’s squad, especially those he grew close to over the years. Despite playing for a different team, those bonds remain strong.
“Those are my brothers over there [in Oakland],” Mack said. “I put in four years of hard work with those guys. I built relationships with them and their families and their friends. It’s a brotherhood in both locker rooms [in Oakland and Chicago]. I’m here now, and these are my new brothers.”
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Mack has fit in well with the Bears, headlining a ferocious defense that ranks third in scoring, second against the run and fifth in yards allowed.
He isn’t huge on rehashing the past, especially about a nearly four-month-old trade while his new team is pushing toward the playoffs. Mack admitted being initially surprised by the deal, but he said he moved on quickly.
Now, he's enjoying this new chapter of his career.
“In that situation [when you’re traded], you don’t really have a choice,” Mack said. “But, at the same time, it’s God working in mysterious ways. I’m blessed to be in this situation, for sure.”