- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
When former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was selected by the Chicago Bears as the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, you could almost feel the excitement emanating from Lake Michigan. The fact that the Bears traded up to get the former Heisman finalist who fell a few more spots than many anticipated was a bold move for a franchise thirsty for a superstar quarterback.
Chicago’s struggles at the quarterback position
In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find another NFL franchise that’s had such a checkered past trying to find that difference-maker under center. Heck, the latest experience with Mitchell Trubisky, a first-rounder himself from the 2017 draft, didn’t go quite as planned. He is now with the Buffalo Bills.
Before that, it’s hard to find a quarterback that’s been thrust into the spotlight of the Windy City and succeeded to take the city’s heart. There was excitement when Chicago signed Jay Cutler in 2009 as a free agent, but for all the talent he possessed — and even displayed at times — it too was one that had too much inconsistency, leaving Bears’ fans longing for more.
He’s still the Bears’ all-time leader in passing yards (2,020) and touchdowns (154), but his 109 interceptions during his eight seasons tell you all you need to know about the love/hate relationship the city of Chicago had with “their” quarterback.
Aside from that, there are really not too many broad shoulders to stand on when looking at Chicago quarterbacks. To this day, Jim McMahon is probably the most adored for his personality and for helping bring home a Super Bowl on the 1985 team. But he did little to lay claim to being a superstar on a team that relied on the best defense ever assembled and a ball-control offense that featured Walter Payton.
In what has become a quarterback league, the Bears have had a hard time being a quarterback team, ever.
Justin Fields, meet the city of Chicago
Welcome in Justin Fields. He’s the next in a long line of quarterbacks the city is just waiting to steal its collective heart. He has a strong arm, is lightning fast, and is without question one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL — day one. He’s also a tireless worker and ultra-competitive. In other words, he has all the skills and traits to finally be what Chicago has long desired with its NFL team. A superstar as one of the most visible icons of the city.
But can he be what everyone wants him to be? If so, the potential at stardom is out of this world on many levels.
Chicago is a city that will get behind its sports teams and the personalities on them if it is given a reason. It has forever loved the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks, but fell in love with the White Sox during the World Series run in 2005. It became Illinois fans when the Illini went on a run in the Final Four that same year, and even starts to look a little north along the shore when Northwestern is beginning to make a little noise. Its inhabitants loved Sister Jean and Loyola during a couple of NCAA March Madness runs.
It’s a city that loves its sports teams as a part of its culture. It decorates and adorns its buildings and gets behind its stars and teams that go on memorable runs or do the unthinkable. I’m not from Chicago myself but have embraced all things from the city because of marrying a Chicagoan. Our reception dinner involved deep dish pizza. In suburban Chicago. My in-laws love Chicago sports. It’s in their blood, is a way of life, and the entire family gets swept up in the sports scene. Even the casual fan there is more than just a casual fan in other cities.
Jun 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; A statue of Chicago Bulls veteran Michael Jordan outside of the United Center before game three of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
The potential of what could be
And that’s the point. If Justin Fields can turn into what many hope he’ll become in one of the largest and most marketable cities in the country, he’s going to be a superstar of grand proportions. There’s a void there that’s been growing for a long time, and Fields has what it takes to be not only the face of a franchise, but perhaps the face of the city. If Patrick Mahomes can be all over our television sets out of Kansas City, Missouri, then what will it look like if Fields does feats of athletic wonders in Chicagoland.
Imagine what could be. Nobody will ever reach the popularity and global reach Michael Jordan did, but if Fields becomes a superstar of the sport during his time in Chicago, there’s a potential that he’s the next closest thing to when “His Airness” was rolling around town in nice cars, a cigar hanging out of his mouth, and traveling around with a few NBA trophies and MVP awards in tow.
Just imagine then what will happen if Fields helps bring home a couple of Super Bowls, makes multiple Pro Bowls, and goes on an all-out assault on the all-time Chicago passing records. This whole thing could get fun.
Obviously, Fields has to be “that” for the world to embrace him. They won’t rename Soldier Field to Soldier “Fields” without plenty of remarkable things happening while mixing it up as a Monster of the Midway.
Somewhere in here, there’s another piece about living up to lofty expectations, but that’s for another day. For now, many in Chicago, and frankly, some Ohio State fans as well, are waiting to see what happens with Fields and rooting for him to ascend upon the sports superstar throne that hasn’t had a king in Chicago for a long, long time.
Time to “Bear Down” and see how this all plays out. The potential is massive.