HEADSTRONG

New Bears learning the ropes in minicamp

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New Bears learning the ropes in minicamp

Every minicamp presents excitement for players, coaches and organizations as a whole. Its the first opportunity to see how new puzzle pieces fit to build your football team. Coaches have ideas through pre-draft film study and internal scouting reports as to how players will be utilized, but first impressions when unwrapping your draft day gifts always are important.

Coaches setting the tempo
Lovie Smith and his coaching staff want to introduce newly acquired players to their mission statement -- everything from explaining what it means to be a Chicago Bear to how new players need to practice properly. Everything introduced is going to be the Chicago Bear way. The reprogramming of free agent signings started April 16 in the classroom, but the brainwashing of fresh meat out of college starts this weekend.

Everything from the introduction of daily itineraries, workout schedules, playbook material, new surroundings, new co-workers and expectation from employees are covered thoroughly. Ive stated before in previous blogs that nothing can be assumed from organizations or coaches. Thus, from a coaching perspective, every nuance the coaches deem necessary for both long-term and a weekend rookie minicamp will be introduced. Learning doesnt happen through osmosis, it must be taught. How everyone learns is a different question, but that will be discerned this weekend by coaches in practice evaluations.
Wide-eyed newbies

I remember my first rookie minicamp for the Steelers back in 1994. I was just anxious to get started by showing up a day early because a college buddy lived in Pittsburgh. I crashed at his house then walked in the Steelers office at Three Rivers Stadium the very next day. Who just happened to be strolling through the lobby when I walked through the Steelers' front door like I was the next Joe Montana? None other than my new head coach Bill Cowher. Bill basically freaked out telling me it was against the rules, but admired my eagerness. A good first impression was made, but there was much I didnt know with plenty more to learn.

Its funny when I think about it. I was crushed, but getting started on your dream is really what all rookies are thinking about. They want to impress on the practice field, in the weight room, impress everyone organizationally but most importantly new teammates. Rookies fight the overall anxious nervousness just to fit in and be accepted. The constant learning is important if you want to be the difference-making player the organization thinks you can be.

Headstrong: Receiving mental health 'is not a luxury, it is a necessity'

Headstrong: Receiving mental health 'is not a luxury, it is a necessity'

Mental health has long had a stigma, but with further awareness of the importance of maintaining positive mental health, that is changing.

“Going to therapy is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” licensed clinical social worker Dr. Gail Grabczynski said. “Just as you go and get evaluated for physical ailments, you should and get evaluated for mental health ailments.”

Grabczynski was the Bears lead mental health clinician from 2005-2016. She also worked closely with former Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

Marshall was able to not only get his life in order, but also speak freely about his mental health. He refused to do his sessions in an office and instead did them where everyone could see him. He was trying to end the stigma of mental health and athletes by showing everyone that he was not afraid to talk about it in a public setting.

“We need to continue to move this forward,” Grabczynski said. “Not only do we see it here domestically. We see it internationally that there is a push and a movement forward regarding mental health and the need for people to understand the importance of it.”

See more from Grabczynski in the interview above.

This is all part of a larger message and project from the NBC Sports Regional Networks. Religion of Sports — the media company founded by Tom Brady, Michael Strahan and Gotham Chopra — has partnered with NBC Sports regional networks for a new one-hour documentary addressing the issue of mental health in sports. “HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports” is executive produced by six-time NFL Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall.

“Mental health issues have been pushed to the forefront of our national conversation,” Ted Griggs, president, Group Leader and Strategic Production & Programming, NBC Sports Regional Networks, added. “Thanks to athletes like Brandon Marshall, Kevin Love, Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin, and executives such as NBA commissioner Adam Silver, we know that our sports heroes face mental health challenges, just like so many others. We hope this project will advance that conversation and show people that resources and assistance are available to everyone.”

Under Center Podcast: Playing 'Trubisky Detective' after rough loss to Rams

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Playing 'Trubisky Detective' after rough loss to Rams

Laurence Holmes, Matt Forte, Alex Brown, Lance Briggs, and Olin Kreutz dissect all the major storylines following the Bears’ 17-7 loss to the Rams in Los Angeles. The guys try to figure out whether QB Mitch Trubisky actually injured his hip or if it was a stealth benching (1:30) before getting into Eddy Pineiro’s tough day (13:00) and whether the team’s culture has taken a hit this season (17:00).

Listen to the entire episode in the embedded player below:

Under Center Podcast

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