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Caleb Williams' transformational aura already being felt as Bears new era begins

Caleb Williams' transformational aura already being felt as Bears new era begins originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Cole Kmet had heard the narratives surrounding Caleb Williams before the Bears selected the quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The narratives that suggested Williams was selfish and a prima donna arose from the vacuum created by Williams' lack of public interviews before the pre-draft process.

Those narratives have subsequently been dispelled by every public appearance the Bears' rookie quarterback makes, be it chanting "Green Bay Sucks" at Old Crow in Wrigleyville or showing up to DJ Moore's camp in the suburbs.

"I try not to have that with anybody because I think it’s so important that you meet somebody personally before you make a decision on them," Kmet said Tuesday at Bears mandatory minicamp about getting to know the real Williams. "Obviously,, you hear a ton of things, and you don’t know what’s true and what’s not. You hear the Hollywood diva-ness, which is kinda funny because he’s only spent a year or two in LA. He’s not even from LA, so that’s kinda funny. Definitely, after when I first met him and going on forward, you definitely get a different perspective, and you really wonder where those things kinda come from.

"Just getting to know him as a person. You don’t really know somebody until you meet them. Yeah, getting to know him over the past couple months now has been pretty fun, and you realize how competitive he is."

That competitive nature came out during a recent trip to Top Golf when Williams asked the employees to stay open a bit later so he could finish a game against a team led by Kmet. It was a game in which Kmet's team came out on top.

But it's Williams' competitiveness that is at the top of the list of reasons the Bears believe they won't have to balance the patience needed with a rookie quarterback against the desire to compete now for very long.

"It’s a good thing that our quarterback’s highly competitive, and he’s of high character, so he’s gonna be pushing that ball down the court," head coach Matt Eberflus said Tuesday. "So I don’t think we have to worry about that. I really don’t. We’ll be pacing this thing at a pretty fast pace like we’ve done already, and I’ve seen the progress in him."

A Chicagoland native, Kmet grew up a Bears fan and understands what Williams' arrival means to a fan base that has long craved a quarterback with his superstar potential.

Being the Bears' franchise savior comes with a lot of expectations. The weight is immense.

But Kmet has already seen Williams start to embrace his new reality.

"I guess that’s something that you kind of have to figure out on your own a little bit, but I think he’s been understanding what it means to people and how difficult it is here," Kmet said. "That being said, he’s been in the limelight for a long time. I personally think L.A. is a little bit different than Chicago. The people here, this is close to their heart, and this means a lot to a lot of people here. So there’s that element to it, but he doesn’t shy away from it. You can tell that, he wants to compete, and he wants to be remembered for a very long time. So I think he’s ready for this opportunity and he just has the demeanor about him that you have that feeling that he can succeed here.

"He’s super excited to be here," Kmet said. "I think he’s starting to get the understanding of what this means to the city and what he means to the city. He’s definitely embracing all that.”

Williams' arrival has injected hope and expectations into the oxygen that flows through and around Halas Hall.

The arm talent jumps off the page. The potential has no ceiling.

Even Eberflus isn't tempering his thoughts on what Williams is and can become.

When asked about wide receiver Keenan Allen's NFL history of playing with top-level quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Justin Herbert, Eberflus beamed and quickly interjected.

"And he gets it again! There you go! Son of a gun!" Eberflus exclaimed with a big smile and a laugh.

Be it Wrigleyville, the suburbs, or daily work at Halas Hall, the real Williams has quickly become an agent of change for a franchise that has been stagnant for far too long.

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