Charles Tillman and Alex Brown were among seven former Chicago Bears who visited the team's rookie minicamp this weekend, offering an in-depth look at what it means to be a Bear.
"I just think you get real-life stories from guys that have been in these shoes," Matt Nagy said, via ChicagoBears.com. "It's one thing for coaches to say it; it's another thing to have real-life people come in who have been in this organization and have had good experiences. I think if you look around and see the guys, they're taking it all in. You can't replicate that."
The Bears are evaluating 70 players at Halas Hall ranging from first-round pick Roquan Smith to journeyman quarterback Aaron Murray, a former fifth-round pick of the Chiefs in 2014.
Tillman and Brown were joined by Jay Hilgenberg, Steve McMichael, Marcus Robinson, Bob Wetoska and James "Big Cat" Williams.
Brown, a fourth-round pick out of Florida in 2002, made sure he studied Bears history when he was a rookie.
"I did my best to learn as much as I could about the Bears, and nobody's history goes back as far as the Bears because they were here in the beginning," Brown said. "And then understanding what Papa Bear meant to the team. Understanding the players that have come through here that kind of paved the road all the way through for us to be here. It's not like the Jacksonville Jaguars that started in the mid-90s. This was started in the beginning. You can't go further back than the Chicago Bears."
Chicago's history of Hall-of-Fame linebackers will cast a hovering shadow over Smith, the eighth pick overall, who's said all the right things to reporters during his first few days on the field.
“I’m not thinking about just being a starter,” Smith told reporters Friday. “I’ll start on special teams if that’s what they want me to do, I’ll do it. It’s not like I’m just saying, ‘Hey, I have to be the starter.’ You crawl before you walk.”
Smith gets it. And if he stays the course, he'll soon add his name to the growing list of legendary Bears defenders.
"There's three ways to get on the unfailing road in life," McMichael said. "You show up early, you pay attention and you work your butt off. Now if you're about them three things, you're going to be a success—in life, not just football."