(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- When the Bears played host to the Philadelphia Eagles last December, the most excited man in the stands might have been Luke Mertens.
That’s because he previously coached Bears linebacker Jack Sanborn at Lake Zurich High School and then-Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards before that at Lakes Community High in Lake Villa.
"It's an indescribable feeling," said Mertens, who's now the head coach at St. Patrick High School in Chicago. "You enter this business and you hope that you can move the needle for one person.”
Edwards is a Bear now, signing a deal with Chicago in free agency this week to line up alongside Sanborn and play for his hometown team. To Mertens, it's a perfect fit.
"He's just tough and gritty and just makes plays," Mertens said of Edwards. "I grew up in the city, been a lifelong fan, and those things that the franchise has always kind of hung their hat on -- that's who T.J. is as a player."
Like Sanborn, Edwards played college ball at Wisconsin. Also like Sanborn, Edwards went undrafted. He too worked his way into a key role.
Mertens takes little credit for their development after high school, insisting that Sanborn and Edwards got themselves to the NFL through their work ethics and commitment. Still, he's grateful to be "part of this amazing journey."
For the record, Mertens has no intention of picking a favorite of the two Bears players.
"No offense to Jack and T.J., but the only Bears jersey I wear on Sunday is Walter Payton," he said. "I think they both understand that."
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