PICKERINGTON, Ohio – Justin Fields smiled when he was told that a camper at his recent youth football camp in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, said he planned to stop following his favorite team. of the NFL to follow him as he began his career with the Chicago Bears. Fields, the No.11 pick in the 2021 draft, left Ohio State as one of the most accomplished players in program history. Along with his playing on the field, Fields has spearheaded a petition for the Big Ten to have a 2020 season engraved with their name in Ohio State football lore.
“It feels good,” Fields said of the camper’s comment. “The more fans we have, the better. I’m just going to try to convert all these kids into Bears fans, for sure.”
Playing for a football mad city is nothing new for Fields. In Columbus, Fields has steadily increased the pressure associated with high-stakes college football. Offensive MVP of this year’s Sugar Bowl, Fields has won 20 of his 22 starts at Ohio State, including two Big Ten titles and back-to-back College Football Playoff appearances. Fields wowed Buckeye fans with his talent as well as his tenacity (he pitched an OSU bowl game record with six touchdown passes against Clemson despite a heavy blow to his midsection in the second quarter).
Fields said he already feels the love of a desperate fan base for a long-term franchise quarterback.
“I love it in Chicago,” Fields said. “I’ve only been to Chicago once, before I was drafted, and I really wasn’t in the city. The city is nice. Of course, the fan base is really crazy about their Bears. definitely love the fans. The coaches are great. Everyone is great in the organization. I’m really excited. “
Ohio’s appreciation for Fields was on display on Sunday, as scores of young players flocked to Pickerington High School North to be around the former Heisman Trophy finalist. There was no shortage of fans sporting the new Fields Bears jersey.
“I just came here to get better, but thought it was pretty cool to meet him,” said Avery Deshong, a sophomore quarterback at nearby Mount Vernon High School. “His team looks pretty good.”
The new Fields team seems indeed improved after a largely disappointing 2020 season. As they made the playoffs for the second time in three years under coach Matt Nagy, Chicago enjoyed a .500 regular season before obediently exiting the playoffs in the wildcard round. Chicago responded by adding significant elements to an attack that was 23rd in the NFL in scoring and 31st in third-down efficiency last season. In addition to signing former Patriots wide receiver Damiere Byrd, the Bears spent their first draft picks on offense. The Bears also signed former Bengals Pro Bowl quarterback Andy Dalton. Barring an injury, Nagy said the plan was for Fields to watch and learn behind Dalton, who got his second opportunity to start for an NFL franchise after playing well in relief from Dak Prescott in his only season. in Dallas.
The hope in Chicago is that the Bears offense can better complement a defense that boasts some of the NFL’s best players among linebackers Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan and free goaltender Eddie Jackson. However, the Bears have their work cut out for them as they have the third toughest schedule in the league based on their opponents’ cumulative wins / losses in 2020. Chicago’s path to the playoffs will likely be easier. if Aaron Rodgers decides not to attend Packers training camp after skipping the mandatory minicamp earlier this offseason.
With his first NFL training camp on the horizon, Fields has been asked to reflect on his legacy at Ohio State. In giving his response, Fields offered better insight into his intangible strengths that helped the Bears trade him for him in the draft.
“I want to be remembered as a quarterback, a teammate, who has always been there for his guys, always there for his teammates, always ready to do anything,” said Fields. “Not necessarily stuff on the pitch. Of course I want to be remembered as a great player, but that’s not the most important thing for me. The most important thing for me is what gender who I am and how I affect others. This is how I want me to be remembered the most. ”