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Newly-signed Bears tackle Jason Peters came to Chicago to win a Super Bowl, and his coaches are hopeful that his veteran leadership will help their team make those aspirations a reality.
Peters, 39, owns every trophy and accolade a professional lineman could hope to achieve, so when he says he came to Chicago to earn one more ring, he likely means it. The Bears aren’t sexy preseason picks for any postseason success by any means, but anything is possible in the NFL, and quite often the difference between good and great is locker room leadership. Peters’ belief in the team and coaching staff may be exactly what they all need to come together and have a special season.
“I really don’t have nothing to prove,” Peters said. “I just want to win, get another ring, to be honest… The Pro Bowl, I got plenty of those. The All-Pros, all the accolades. The biggest one for me now is Super Bowl. I got one. I would like another here with the Chicago Bears.”
The Bears have finished the dreaded 8-8 the previous two seasons—not good enough to contend, but not bad enough to draft big talent—and now enter 2021 with questions at quarterback. In other words, they have their work cut out for them, but Peters has undoubtedly seen it all before and knows that a little belief goes a long way with teammates.
“We’ve definitely got a good team, hard workers,” Peters said. “We definitely got a shot to win the division. And you know, once you get to the playoffs anything can happen. So we’ve got a good chance right now looking at everything.
“I’m here to help the young guys. Mold them. And if I don’t become a starter I’m going to help mold them… and then hand the baton off to them.”
Peters’ presence is already being felt profoundly by those young guys—players who have all the talent in the world but don’t always know how to channel it in a way that leads to success, both on the field and off.
“Being with Jason, it’s like, dang, you know, that experience is invaluable,” offensive guard Germain Ifedi said. “It’s not even all about football stuff, it’s life stuff too. Relationships, things like that, financial stuff. He talks to us about anything.
“He’s been in it so long, seen everything. Nothing really that you can come to him with that he has not experienced. So just being a sponge, I’m sure it’s annoying, guys come up to him all the time, but those types of guys, they just love sharing and putting their arms around the younger guys and really telling them the way. Because you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Perhaps even more importantly than his role as elder statesman to players, Peters also knows many of the coaches personally and can serve as a natural liaison between staff and the locker room. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo worked with Peters in Philly, as did head coach Matt Nagy, who was just a small-time assistant with the Eagles during Peters’ first few seasons there. Nagy is only four years older than Peters himself.
“This situation is good because I know all the coaches pretty much and the staff and stuff,” Peters said. “They know me and they know what I can do. They’re just letting me get my legs and stuff under me right now.
“Coming in late like this in training camp, knowing Juan and knowing what he wants, technique and stuff he wants, is key.”
Can Peters still contribute at a high-level on the field? Maybe. But can he serve as the heart and soul, the glue, of a talented roster looking to make the leap from mediocrity to contenders? Absolutely.
The Bears open the season in Los Angeles against the Rams on Sunday Night Football.