Sherrick McManis, of all people, is the longest-tenured player on the Chicago Bears roster. He arrived in 2012 as part of an afterthought trade where he was exchanged for fullback Tyler Clutts. It’s likely the Bears didn’t realize at the time they were getting one of the best special teams players in the NFL for pennies. Still, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

After being drafted out of Northwestern in 2010, McManis hadn’t managed to find a definitive role with the Houston Texans. He was certain he was going to get cut. However, Houston traded him to the Bears instead. It was a nice if empty consolation prize for the Peoria-native. He was still venturing back into the unknown.

Chicago was an established team by that point with a loaded defense and one of the best special teams units in the game. From his perspective, McManis had reasons to think he might not last too long. It wasn’t like the Bears had committed many resources to get him. He wasn’t comfortable when he walked into that locker room for the first time.

Then he met Brian Urlacher.

Urlacher showed Sherrick McManis the Bears family atmosphere

Seeing the 6’4 monstrous linebacker must’ve been intimidating for an outsider like McManis. Then in the space of a few exchanged words, the Hall of Famer managed to ease the tension and make the cornerback seem like a new part of the family. A reminder of how great a leader he was.

“When I first got into the building, the first person and maybe the only person I saw in the locker was Urlacher,” McManis said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is him. This is ‘Lach right here.’”

A few words from Urlacher — “Hey man, how you doin’?” — allowed McManis to exhale.

“Basically he said, we’re happy to have you,” he said. “It was like he already knew who I was or heard that they made a trade or something.

“But he welcomed me in with open arms. I was just like, ‘Wow.’ It felt good, knowing the kind of guy and player he was and to have him acknowledge me and show me some love coming in. It was a good feeling.”

McManis seemed to settle in just fine. So much so that he managed to survive the firing of three different head coaches and a GM while keeping his roster spot. That’s a testament to his talent and perseverance. A last representative of the old guard. It would be fitting if the Bears could win a championship with that final link to the past greats.