LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- Before Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams turned his attention to Chicago's game at Dallas on Sunday, he first wanted to share his appreciation for recently traded pass rusher Robert Quinn.
The Bears dealt the veteran Quinn to the Eagles on Wednesday afternoon in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. It marked the departure of a beloved figure and team captain for the Bears. To the first-year defensive coordinator Williams, Quinn's exit meant losing a key player and person.
“I’d like to thank Robert Quinn for all that he meant to our defense, all that he meant to the Chicago Bears and really specifically all that he meant to me,” Williams said Thursday afternoon at Halas Hall. “Whenever you come in as a new coach, new coordinator, to have one of the older guys be on board and to echo your messages and to echo it in the locker room and on the practice field, that’s a big deal.
“So, I wish him well. I hope he continues to have a ton of success and if more people were like Robert, it would be a much better place -- professionally and personally.”
The 32-year-old Quinn earned the Bears' respect over three seasons in part because of his wonderful perspective on life. At the age of 17, Quinn had a brain tumor and feared the prospect of having only days left to live. He underwent surgery to reduce the tumor's swelling on the brain, and it was found to be benign. Quinn still lives with the brain tumor to this day.
In 2021, the Bears voted Quinn their veteran winner of the Brian Piccolo Award, the team's most important individual honor. Quinn was also voted the Jeff Dickerson Good Guy Award winner by Chicago media members.
"I told him thank you, I appreciated him, and he went about his business," Bears rookie pass rusher Dominique Robinson said.
When the Bears learned of Quinn’s departure to the Eagles on Wednesday afternoon, there was genuine emotion. Linebacker Roquan Smith broke down in tears during a press conference before being led out of the room.
The Bears struggled to process having such an influential figure in their locker room leave them.
“I think that’s a good thing,” Williams said. “Some people say it’s a business. But I say it’s a people business. And then I read how do you take your emotions out of it? I say you don’t. You let your emotions show. So, when you lose someone that you’re close to, you show them emotion and it happens where in the NFL and really in any job where people come and people go, there’s a change of guard.
"You let your emotions flow, you wish them well and it’s not business as usual. I hate that word where you go, ‘Hey, it’s business as usual.’ No, it’s not. We still have a job to do. But we do still, we’re going to miss him on a personal level and a professional level.”
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.