Despite rumblings about retirement, Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman knew he was going to return for the 2021 season as soon as the 2020 season ended.
In fact, he even expressed some regret about opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is always regret when you take a step back from something you love. So yeah,” Goldman said Wednesday after his first NFL practice since the 2019 season ended.
Later, when a reporter repeated a question about regrets, the soft-spoken Goldman said he didn’t have any, but then he stopped and added: “The only regret that I do have is just the fact that my teammates went to battle without me, you know? That'll be my only regret.”
Goldman said he “lived and died with every play” as he watched the 2020 season on television and admitted it was hard to accept that he wasn’t there to help his teammates.
“It was kind of painful, you know? Because when you’re used to the routine, it’s like you know what times they’re hitting the field at this time, they’re warming up around this time, they’re having the locker room speech. You know what I mean. All of that and just being away from it just kind of killed me,” he said.
Goldman even wondered how he would be received back in the building when he arrived Tuesday.
“That was something I was thinking about. When I came back, everybody greeted me with love. I feel like everybody's just happy to be back in the building together. That's it,” Goldman said.
All offseason, Bears head coach Matt Nagy and defensive coordinator Sean Desai said they expected Goldman to return for the 2021 season, but no one really knew for sure after the big run stuffer skipped OTAs and mandatory veteran minicamp. Goldman cited the COVID-19 protocols and “family issues” as reasons why he didn’t show up to Halas Hall until training camp began.
Nagy revealed Goldman was in the building earlier in the offseason and they talked, but he also admitted he wasn’t 100 percent sure Goldman would show until Bears vice president of communications Brandon Faber texted him and let him know that the nose tackle was in the building Tuesday.
“Do you know how hard it is to get ahold of Eddie Goldman?,” Nagy said.
It was one of those kidding-but-not-kidding moments, as Goldman isn’t necessarily known for his communication.
“I don't really deal with my phone a lot,” he said. “I could be over here doing something and my phone would be over here. Sometimes I don't look at my phone.”
Regardless, everyone at Halas Hall seems genuinely excited to see one of their best players. And Goldman left little doubt that he’s still excited about playing football. He reported in good shape and there’s a hope in the building that the year off helped his body at a physically demanding position.
“You get to rest your joints,” Goldman said. “I use my hands a lot — my hands feel good, my elbows feel good. Just that stuff. The little stuff.”
Little stuff for a big guy who hopes to have a big season in 2021.