Bears Greats Remind Present Team Of Opportunity

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- Veteran cornerback Kyle Fuller walked into the Bears' centennial celebration last Friday evening and was stopped by the sight of a legend. There was Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers entering the room.

E​​​​​​ntering his sixth year with the Bears, the 27-year-old Fuller has always held an appreciation for the organization's rich history. Seeing faces to the names and meeting prominent franchise figures only strengthened those sentiments.

"It just gives you another reminder of how rich this tradition is," Fuller said. "You feel special.

"It's pretty cool that they came from the same organization."

As the Bears took the field Tuesday for their three-day veteran mini-camp at Halas Hall -- the final portion of the offseason program before training camp in July -- they were still thinking back to the weekend at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont and the team's anniversary celebration.

The Bears welcomed back all but one of their living Hall of Famers and more than 100 former players as they celebrated some of their greatest eras of the past. One of the underlying themes of the weekend was what this current team can accomplish in 2019 and beyond.

For All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack, meeting a Hall of Famer at his position in Richard Dent was the most memorable moment of the weekend.

Mack and Dent discussed the game and pass rushing techniques.

"Not only that," Mack said. "After I talked to him, I played back and (saw) what he actually did throughout his whole career here. Very special. That definitely has got to be one of my favorite moments.

"Man, dominant," Mack added of Dent. "A dominant force coming off the edge."

No matter the era of the past, the Bears of the present found a connection. Second-year linebacker Roquan Smith was drawn to a hero at his position in Dick Butkus. Fuller found himself reconnecting with Charles "Peanut" Tillman, his teammate in 2014 who's also considered the greatest cornerback in Bears history.

Coach Matt Nagy savored his time catching up with former coach Mike Ditka. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky donned a white headband and shades like the Bears' "Punky QB" in Jim McMahon, then sat back in their panel Saturday and listened to the stories. They kept going throughout the weekend, and the Bears were all ears. 

All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson was moved hearing former safety Mike Brown was in tears discussing how he missed the Bears' run to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season with a Lisfranc injury. 

"Just to see him start crying after all this time after, it just shows how much it meant to him, what football means to him still to this day," Jackson said of Brown.

When it was all over, Fuller found himself scrolling the internet like Mack and piecing together the greatness they had all encountered. He wanted to know more about Sayers and the 1963 championship, the legacy of that 1985 Bears defense and what makes this organization unique.

Motivation was high for the Bears as they returned to the practice field for their final phase of the offseason program. They know well the opportunity that lies ahead. 

Legends let them know.

"It's just real right now," Fuller said of his team. "Everything you expect.

"It's not promised. We still have to work. But we're close right now."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.