Once again the Chicago Bears Hard Knocks push by many fans fell short. Team chairman George McCaskey once again got his wish and kept his team off the popular HBO program. He, like others, felt it would be too much of a distraction. Given this team is trying to pick up the pieces from a 3-13 season in 2016, that’s a pretty fair analysis.
Instead it will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers assuming the mantle for 2017. It marks their first appearance on the program and seems rather fitting. With a charismatic leader and personality like Jameis Winston leading the way, it’s hard to see that being a disappointment. The entertainment factor should be strong from start to finish.
Common football fans likely won’t be the only ones watching every episode closely. Turns out Bears GM Ryan Pace may have it set to record on his DVR. Not just because it’s fun to watch but for a much bigger purpose. In case Chicago fans have forgotten, it seems the young executive has a growing history of plucking popular players from that show.
The Bears Hard Knocks connection runs deep
It can be easy to forget that the Bears have mined the two previous Hard Knocks participant teams for some of their more memorable celebrities. Sure the primary reason would’ve been finding depth for the roster, but don’t forget one key factor. Pace and head coach John Fox are big on locker room chemistry. That takes a certain kind of personality and character. If there’s one thing that could be said about both additions, it’s they had some charisma.
First there was tight end Khari Lee, an undrafted free agent of the Houston Texans in 2015 whom the Bears traded for prior to the season. He no doubt might be one of the best impersonators going in the NFL.
Not to be outdone, the next Hard Knocks arrival was offensive guard Eric Kush. He made a name for himself as a keen lover of tank tops during training camp with the Los Angeles Rams. It was equal parts hilarious, patriotic and yes a tad impressive as well.
Value in small places
In the end what the Bears got was a mixed bag. Lee was a depth and special teams player who was never able to get much action on offense. Though a quality blocker he just didn’t have receiving prowess needed to make an impact and was eventually released. Kush the other hand turned into a surprising quality addition.
With the offensive line suffering some injury problems last year including both guards Josh Sitton and Kyle Long missing multiple games, it fell on Kush to fill the void. Not only did he do it, but his play was much better than expected. So much so that the tank top enthusiast earned himself a two-year contract extension for a healthy $2.7 million.
So yeah. Maybe there is good reason to watch Hard Knocks for Bears fans beyond just the fun of it.