Bears fans booed. Mike Glennon wept. John Fox looked confused. John Lynch’s CTE subsided just long enough for him to act smug and get kudos from the sycophantic NFL media. And that was just when they found out that Chris Berman wasn’t going to host the draft anymore. April 28, 2017 was a huge night for the Chicago Bears.
Ryan Pace, Bears general manager
We had to get the quarterback position right. We went out and signed Mike Glennon, who we really liked, and were open to the idea of drafting a good, young quarterback with our number three pick in the first round.
Mike Glennon, Bears QB 2017-2017
I knew the Bears really wanted me. They gave me $18 million guaranteed for year one. Was I worried that my buyout for year two was only $4.5 million? Why would I be? I knew I was going to play well and be the Bears QB for years.
John Fox, Bears coach 2015-2017
I was really excited that we signed Mike. I like big quarterbacks. You know guys who can really see over the line. You know how some coaches go up those scissor lifts to watch practice so they can see everything? You ever see Glennon’s neck? He’s a human scissor lift! How could that not work?
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame head football coach 2009-present
I don’t answer scissor lift questions.
But it’s not that windy today.
Just because we signed Glennon didn’t mean we wouldn’t take a young QB. Everybody in our organization knew that.
I had no idea.
We flew out to Chapel Hill as part of our pre-draft work and we met as an organization with Mitch Trubisky. We even had him pick the restaurant to get a feel for his decision making.
Was I there? Was it at Hooters?
Foxy was there, and Dowell Loggains and Dave Ragone and Josh Lucas. Mitch picked a nice steakhouse, and I thought it was pretty clever, he put the reservation under the name “James McMahon.”
A steakhouse? Was it Sizzler? I honestly don’t remember any of this.
We were really impressed by Mitchell. He was bright, he gave thoughtful answers, he asked good questions. You could really see that he’d grow into somebody who could be an elite leader.
Dave Ragone, Bears quarterback coach
I convinced him that the little balls of butter on the table were pastel after dinner mints.
Mitch Trubisky, Bears quarterback 2017-
I ate like ten of them. By the sixth or seventh one I realized they weren’t mints. But I just kept eating them.
The butter eater? That was Mitch? Huh. Guys, I’m really not sure I was there.
After that meeting I was sold on him. We liked what we saw on tape. We liked his pro day workout, and now we had a great in person visit. My only concern was would he still be there for us to draft with the third pick.
Sashi Brown, Browns General Manager, 2016-2017
Teams were calling us long before the draft trying to get our number one pick, and a lot of them were after Trubisky. We wanted Myles Garrett [defensive end from Texas A&M] so we weren’t interested, but I’m sure that the Niners were getting those calls at number two, too. Heh. Tutu.
John Lynch, 49ers General Manager, 2017-
I’m not really sure how many calls we got from teams trying to move up to number two. I think most teams figured that the Browns would screw up the top pick, and they figured I’d botch our pick, since I’d spent the previous nine years doing games on TV, and after a 15 year playing career where I basically tried to tackle guys with my head that I was in some early stage of dementia. What was the question again?
Mike Lombardi, NFL expert at The Ringer, former NFL executive
It’s like that scene in the Godfather where Michael goes into the bathroom to get the gun out from behind the toilet tank, and Joe Pesci is in there and says, “What am I a clown? Do I amuse you?” and then Al Pacino yells at the guy who’s having sex with his ex-wife and says, “You can fuck my wife, but you can’t have my TV!” and the takes the TV off the table and out to his car.
So we’re sitting there at three and teams are calling us and offering us packages because they want to move up and draft either Mitch or Deshaun Watson. I mean, really good packages. The Chiefs offered us their number one, a number two, a future number two and Len Dawson. So I’m thinking if they’re offering all of that to us, I’m sure they’re offering it to San Francisco. So I need to call John Lynch and try to get a feel for what it might take to move up.
With the draft coming up the Bears PR people were talking to me about attending a team sponsored draft watch party. That sounded cool to me, and I even got a call from Rich Melman about appearing at one of this restaurants that night. It was great that the city was so excited that I was the new quarterback.
Rich Melman, CEO, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
That’s kind of an embarrassing story. I was talking to some of my old friends with the Bears and they asked if I wanted “this guy” to come to one of the venues for a draft night party. They showed me a picture, and I thought Toys R Us was bringing Geoffrey back, so I said “sure.”
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN hairdo, NFL draft expert
If you look at the measurables of the guys at the top of the 2017 draft, I mean you’ve got Myles Garrett up there and Jonathan Allen [defensive end, Alabama] and certainly Jamal Adams [safety, LSU]. Then OJ Howard [tight end, Alabama] and Deshaun Watson. I really didn’t have Trubisky all that high. I thought maybe he’d be a mid to late first rounder.
Kiper is shown his final mock draft in which he has Trubisky going number one to Cleveland.
Like I said, Trubisky was the class of this draft. Great job by the Bears of moving up to get their man. They’re set at QB now for a decade or two.
When I was with Bill Belichick in Cleveland and New England he used to have a saying that I think are words to live by to this day. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the fact that none of those teams played a zone defense against Air Bud.” I mean, it’s so true. That’s why Bill’s the best.
We’d made up our minds that if we stayed at three that we were going to take Solomon Thomas [defensive end, Stanford.] We liked him because we’re big fans of undersized defensive linemen who have no chance of having an impact in the league. But even if we were going to trade our pick so someone could move up and take a QB, the Bears had to know that if Cleveland took Garrett number one, that either Trubisky or Watson was guaranteed to be there at three. I didn’t think they’d end up trading with us. I also can’t get too close to microwave ovens or I pass out.
Cleveland was either taking Mitch or Garrett number one. Those were our top two guys on our board. But if neither of them were going to be there at three we had a dilemma. We had a long meeting two days before the draft and we had to make a decision. Would we do whatever it took to get up to one or two and get Mitchell, or would we stay at three, and if Mitch and Garrett were gone, go back to our strategy the first two years of drafting the player most likely to get injured every season? It was a heated discussion.
I do remember that. I was at that meeting, it was a good one. My agent texted me during it and reminded me that if I got fired they’d have to pay me to not coach. And, Panera catered that meeting, so it was all good.
Dot Schneiderman, custodian, Halas Hall
What conference room was that meeting in? Oh, shit. I’ll bet that food’s still there. It’s gonna make the sushi disaster seem like a Yankee Candle. We should probably just burn the building down.
Draft day morning I get a call from Ryan Pace and he’s interested in trading up to number one. We’d decided that we were taking Garrett no matter what we got offered. Even if the Bears had offered us an elite package of picks and star players like, oh, I don’t know, maybe Mike Glennon, Connor Barth and Hroniss Grasu, we weren’t going to trade.
We didn’t offer that. In fact, we were prohibited from trading Glennon because he had just signed, and we couldn’t trade Barth. I mean come on, those extra points don’t just miss themselves.
We got our first call from the Bears the morning of the draft. We were taking Thomas, and we knew he’d be there at three, so we were all ears. Hell, he’d have probably been there at 31, if we’re being honest. He was just a terrible pick. Awful, really.
Draft day was really hectic. We had to work out the deal with the Niners, and I had to make sure all of our key people knew what we were up to.
I literally never got a phone call from Ryan that day. I even had my wife call my phone a couple of times to make sure it was working. But of course it was, the Motorola Razr is the most dependable phone ever made.
Did who call on draft day? Pace? No. But the Lettuce Entertain You guy kept texting and asking if I had enough leaves and twigs to eat “up there.” What did that even mean?
The draft started and the Browns took Garrett. We just kicked back and waited for the phone to ring, and sure enough…somebody turned the microwave on and I passed out.
Jed York, CEO, 49ers
He’s not kidding. I threw a Hot Pocket in and he hit the floor like Mike Utley.
We were ready to make the trade with the Niners, but suddenly they said John Lynch wasn’t available.
I was face down in berber. But I pulled it together. I rolled over, wiped the drool off my face…
An alarming amount of drool. I still have nightmares about it.
…and I duped Ryan Pace out of three draft picks to move up one spot! He’s sitting there with one pick ahead of him and two franchise QBs to choose from and he’s tossing draft picks at us like he’s running a t-shirt cannon at a minor league hockey game.
We traded our first rounder, number three overall, for the number two overall, and we gave them a third and fourth rounder in 2017 and a third rounder in 2018. And I’d do it again in fact, maybe I will.
It was Christmas in July, or whenever the draft is. I hit Sterling Sharpe with the crown of my helmet in ’93 and ever since I haven’t been able to read a calendar. Weird, huh?
Where was I when I heard about the trade? I was in the war room. Sitting next to Ryan Pace. And I saw the trade on TV. It was kind of awkward.
Was Foxy in the room? I didn’t remember that.
I wasn’t sure who was going to take me. I hadn’t heard anything from the Bears in a long time. When they announced the trade I thought that maybe it would be me or Deshaun, because teams usually only give up that much to get a quarterback. But I didn’t think it would be Chicago. The only time I met with them was at the steakhouse in Chapel Hill, and I didn’t make a great impression on John Fox. He got up like five minutes into the meal and never came back.
Aha! Now I remember that dinner. Yeah, I went to the bathroom and somehow got locked in a stall. I was in there for hours.
Yeah, 27 hours. We didn’t know where he was. He missed his flight. And, the weirdest part was that the whole time he was trapped in there he had his headset on
I can never remember if the talk button is what you use to talk or to not talk
So, with the 49ers on the clock I made the call to John Lynch. The trade cost was steep, but fair. Hey, we got a franchise quarterback. You can’t put a price on those.
My brain is mostly Tau these days, and I got a franchise quarterback for one second rounder [Jimmy Garroppalo.]
So my wife and I are at a draft party shaking hands and kissing babies and I’m getting all of these questions about who we’re gonna take. I was telling everybody that Corey Davis the wide receiver from Central Michigan or Mike Williams the big receiver from Clemson would look pretty good. Man was I surprised when they announced the pick.
I wanted a defensive player to tell you the truth. You can’t lose if you don’t give up any points. I really liked that big safety from LSU, Adams. Honestly, that’s who I thought we were going to take.
Why didn’t I tell Foxy? Look, I have the utmost respect for him. But anything you tell him goes straight to [Fox TV reporter Jay Glazer], so I couldn’t tell John anything.
What? That’s absurd. I rarely ever talk to The Glaze.
Jay Glazer, NFL reporter, Fox NFL Sunday
I can report that John Fox says it’s absurd that he’d have told Jay Glazer if he knew the Bears were going to trade for Mitchell Trubisky. He rarely ever talks to The Glaze.
It’s like Al Davis used to say [does awful impression of Al Davis’ voice], “If you want to keep a secret you should make sure that you don’t tell anybody because if you do they might tell somebody else.” Al was so full of wisdom.
So, Lynch and I agree on the trade, we both write it up and send it to the league office, which they make really easy to do at the draft. But I still had one approval left to get.
Virginia McCaskey, Principal Owner, Chicago Bears
I’m not a big fan of the draft. I’m always yelling for Michael to close a window. I’m 95, I’m a mild flu bug away from being dead.
So, I get Mrs. McCaskey on the phone and I tell her that we’re going to trade some picks to move up and get the best quarterback in the draft. And she says…
I said, “What’s wrong with Sidney? Is he holding out for more money? Does he want a new Duesenberg to drive?”
Mrs. McCaskey indicated that she thought Sid Luckman was still the quarterback of the team. Not only hadn’t he played in 67 years, but he’d been dead for 19.
I was just giving the young man a little of the old raspberry. I knew Sidney wasn’t the QB anymore. Oh, I was just having a little fun. That said, don’t you think we’re giving up on Peter Tom Willis a little bit too soon?
I guess it was just a little joke. She told me to go ahead and she offered me some hard candy. She’s a great lady.
What I told him was that if he was going to give up all that draft capital to get a quarterback he should shitcan his mildly competent head coach and in-over-his-head offensive coordinator. Otherwise he was just going to be wasting a year of the new quarterback’s career. Oh well, nobody listens to me. No sir, they’re too busy proving how smart they are by missing the playoffs every year.
Mother’s close to being pissed again.
My phone rang and I saw the 312 area code and I knew it meant the Bears were going to take me. I was fired up. It was a great moment in my life.
It sucked ass.
I told my closest confidants that if we were going to play a rookie quarterback, we were going to have a losing season and I was as good as fired.
A source close to the Bears told me that if they were going to play a rookie quarterback that they’d have a losing season and John Fox was as good as fired.
So we got all those extra picks and still got Thomas at number three. Our best pick was Alabama linebacker Ruben Foster at 31. He was a top ten talent who had just a little trouble at the combine [he was sent home early for screaming at a hospital worker during his physical and then flunked a drug test.] He’s going to be a durable, stalwart player for us for a very long time. This draft stuff is easy. [Foster missed five games due to injury in his rookie season and after the season he was arrested on domestic violence and gun charges.] Do you smell almonds?
What it all comes down to with the draft is did you get the guys you need to be successful. Doesn’t matter what round you got them, just did you get them. It’s like Bill Walsh used to tell me, “I said two creamers and one sugar you worthless dick!” What a great man. A true genius.
Sure, at the end of the day we paid $22.5 million to Mike Glennon to make five starts for us, and sure, we fired John Fox and Dowell Loggains and we probably did waste a valuable year of Mitch’s development with inadequate coaching. The most important thing is that we get it right. I mean, what’s the hurry?
Kevin White, Bears Wide Receiver and 2015 first round draft pick
I’m going to remind him he said that.