Bears

Bears: NFL may be a breeze for Fabuluje after life struggles

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Bears: NFL may be a breeze for Fabuluje after life struggles

Tayo Fabuluje got the call of a lifetime on Saturday when Bears coach John Fox informed the TCU tackle that the Bears had selected him with their sixth-round pick, the 183rd overall. Recounting the moment afterwards, the emotion was right there in his voice and the words came out in a torrent:

“It's a dream come true,” said Fabuluje, a 6-7, 353-pound lineman who’d attended TCU and BYU in addition to sitting out all of 2013 working three jobs to help his family. “I broke down into tears when I heard the news. It's a day at one point I didn't see coming. I didn't think it could happen for me, when bad things are going on in my life.

“Like I've told people before, you kind of lose sight of the good things in life when you're down and you're struggling and you're trying to dig yourself out of a hole. Being in a top-flight position today, being a Chicago Bear is just a dream come true. I don't think anybody could write this up. This is something that is God-given and it's just a blessing and amazing. I don't have words that can explain how I feel today. I'm just truly blessed and thankful for the Chicago Bears organization and all the good people that have been around me and helped me get here to where I am today.”

[MORE: Bears address safety with Penn State's Adrian Amos]

That Fabuluje, born in Nigeria and brought to the United States as a youngster, was able to have this day perhaps speaks to a “character” level not many can reach.

Fabuluje was 5 when his father was deported back to Nigeria after being implicated in a truck-theft ring. The son rarely has contact with the father now.

The father had been the family provider and Fabuluje’s mother Debra had not worked before the deportation. She struggled to make ends meet but did it by engaging in petty theft, to the point where she was sent away to prison in 2012 and is still incarcerated.

“She never worked and my dad provided everything,” Fabuluje said. “When he was taken out of our lives she was like a deer in the headlights. She didn’t know what to do and she got around some bad people who steered her down the wrong path. Everything she’s ever done was to only help her family succeed. That’s why she’s doing time.”

Fabuluje, who redshirted at BYU in 2010, transferred to TCU in 2011 but had to sit out because of transfer rules. He started 12 games in 2012 but had to quit football in 2013 and worked three jobs to help his sister Tosin.

“I worked those three jobs because I knew I had to help out to support my sister, who was in a hard time with my mom going away to have to do some time and all that type of stuff,” Fabuluje said. “She had trouble finding work, so I had to do that to keep my family afloat.”

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After the year away from football, during which he moved back to Utah to live with friends, Fabuluje returned to TCU for the 2014 season, started 12 games and was an All-Big 12 second team selection.

Good enough for that call Saturday.

“They were telling me that one of the first things they're going to do when I get there is going to throw me on the scale, and we all got a good laugh out of that,” said Fabuluje, who changed his eating habits and has his weight down from 360 into the 330’s. “I'm not worried about it. I've got my weight in check. I'm just ecstatic and ready to get started."

Kyle Long looking forward to 'seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch'

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USA TODAY

Kyle Long looking forward to 'seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch'

Former Bears offensive linemen Kyle Long appeared on The Rap Sheet and Friends podcast hosted by NFL insider Ian Rapoport and he didn't shy away from questions about Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Long, while stating that he understood the questioning and criticism that Trubisky faces, still believes in him.

"The Bears have won with Mitchell Trubisky."

Indeed Mitch was the starter for 14 games of the Bears 12-4 season before this year's 8-8 disappointment. The issue was Trubisky's play was of course, as he didn't show any noticeable improvement in 2019 after tossing 24 touchdowns in 2018. "We all regressed this year, but unfortunately heavy lies the head that wears the crown, and Mitch is the captain," Long said. 

"Mitch is the quarterback. He’s also suited to take the stuff that he’s gotta deal with, and that’s what I love about Mitch. He can deal with the noise, and he’s young. He’s so young."

Long seems excited by the idea of Chicago's hires, saying that new faces could have quite the positive effect on Trubisky’s game "I’m looking forward to seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch. It’ll be cool to see.”

This offseason the Bears have brought in a new offensive coordinator (Bill Lazor), quarterbacks coach (John DeFilippo), and promoted former quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone to passing game coordinator. Bears head coach Matt Nagy, similar to Long, has faith in Trubisky developing, especially in regard to Ragone. In December Nagy said, “I think I know Mitch better than anybody in this building, except maybe Dave Ragone.”

Long certainly seems to miss his teammates though he clearly has no regrets about his decision. He and Trubisky definitely share a bond that will last long beyond their playing days. “I love the kid, he’s a great friend obviously, a teammate, but I’m looking forward to seeing him develop.”

Similar to the message delivered by the Bears’ front office, Long was in full support of Trubisky throughout the entire interview.

"Mitch is the quarterback. He’s also suited to take the stuff that he’s gotta deal with, and that’s what I love about Mitch. He can deal with the noise...”

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Kyle Long says retirement was easiest decision he's ever made

Kyle Long says retirement was easiest decision he's ever made

Kyle Long saw the same thing Bears fans did during the 2019 season. His level of play was no longer among the top guards in the NFL. In fact, he became a liability for an offensive line that ultimately became one of the biggest weaknesses on the team.

"Fans who are frustrated with my performance, you don’t think I’m sitting in that film room just clenching my fist because I just can’t make a block, or I’m just not healthy enough to get there?" Long said on the Rapsheet and Friends podcast this week. "It’s frustrating. I feel that. I’ve seen the writing on the wall, the Bears did it right, they gave me every opportunity to get healthy. Any other team in the league would have cut me years ago, I’m talking years ago.

"The Bears did me right, and I wanted to do right by them. I’ll never wear another set of colors but navy and orange. I take pride in that, a lot of guys have gone and played somewhere else when this time came for them and it tarnished their legacy, in my mind at least."

Long started 76 of 77 career games with the Bears and during the course of his seven-year career in Chicago became one of the team's most recognizable personalities on and off the field. It began during his rookie season when he was selected to the NFL's All-Rookie team and was an NFC Pro Bowler.

"The miles that I do have in the NFL are rough ones," Long said. "I played the game hard when I could, I played it as I thought it should be played, I gave everything I could to my teammates, emotionally and all that. I always knew there would come a time where I would not recognize the player that I’m seeing on film, and no player wants to have that. 

"It was the easiest decision I’ve ever made because I didn’t recognize the guy on film. I’ll be honest, I was an ass-kicker for a long time. You line ‘em up, I’ll put ‘em down, but there came a point where I couldn’t do that anymore, and it was frustrating. So I knew it was time."

Long, who said he could play another three or four years, didn't use the word retirement when discussing his status. Instead, he chose 'hiatus' as a better description of his current state.

"Could I play more? Absolutely," said Long. "If I took a year off, can I go play 3-4 more years? No doubt in my mind. Do I want to do that? It remains to be seen, which is why I use the term hiatus."

Maybe we haven't seen the last of Long with the Bears. But one thing's for sure, he won't be suiting up in 2020.