When Dick Butkus talks, you listen — especially if you’re a former first-round linebacker entering his second year in the NFL.
So what did Butkus tell Roquan Smith this weekend at the Bears100 Celebration?
“Pretty much Butkus was like, ‘Just be violent. By all means be violent, that was his main thing,” Smith said.
Otis Wilson, the linebacker who won a Super Bowl with the Bears in 1985, had similar advice for Smith. Though perhaps the lesson is more about being physical than being, well, that physical.
“I probably wouldn't have a game check and then (would have to) give them some of my signing bonus,” Smith said, when asked how much money he’d stand to lose if he strictly followed Butkus and Wilson's advice.
For Smith and Danny Trevathan, the opportunity to meet with Butkus, Mike Singletary and other former Bears linebackers had significant value. While Brian Urlacher backed out at the last minute due to some self-reported digestive issues, there still was a wealth of linebacking information and experiences congregating in Rosemont over the weekend. As Trevathan put it: “This is linebacker heaven.”
While Smith chatted with Wilson and Butkus — Smith won the collegiate Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker, his final year at Georgia — Trevahtan was able to pick the brain of Singletary. Trevathan had previously read one of Singletary’s books but hadn’t met him before this weekend, and said he can’t wait to apply the lessons he learned this upcoming season.
“I just know that it’s going to carry over with us because we have so much respect for those guys, and anything they say, we’re zoomed in, we listen to everything that they’re saying because we know that they did it before,” Trevathan said. “And this ain’t no regular (person) talking. It’s somebody that really came in here, worked their tail off and actually reaped the benefits of it. So we know we have to go out there — the window of opportunity is so small.”
While the Bears100 Celebration was ostensibly a fan event, with autograph tables and activities and merchandise for the thousands that came through the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center last weekend, it was much more than that. It was an opportunity for old teammates to re-connect and tell stories.
And it was an opportunity for current Bears players to learn from the wealth of information possessed by the living Hall of Famers and hundreds of players who congregated in one place for a truly special weekend.
“I’m rarely fanned out, but when I see those group of guys, just the foundation and the history that’s here — 100 years Celebration — yeah, I was definitely star-struck just to be around them,” Trevathan said. “And (getting) to have a conversation with them, talk about life, talk about football — those are the type of things you can’t really put a price on.”