The NFL’s best and brightest often surround themselves with like-minded people who tend to be moving in the same direction and toward a common goal. And while the jury is still out on where Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace ranks among the league’s general managers, this much is clear: he seems to see a lot of himself in Matt Nagy.
In a recent piece by Peter King of SI.com’s The MMQB, Pace opened a window into his thought process behind hiring Nagy, revealing a bit of how much the Bears’ new head coach reminds Pace of himself.
“When you ask about picking a coach you can work with,” Pace told King. “You have to think he’s going to be a good fit. There was just something about Matt. I went to a job fair in New Orleans and got a job [entry level] with the Saints making $500 a month. Matt’s basically the same. He climbed from the bottom. He’s got an appreciation for this and realizes how hard it is to get here.”
Pace’s career in the NFL started as an operations assistant with the Saints in 2001. Nagy’s began as an Eagles coaching intern in 2008. Despite their respective meteoric rises to high-profile positions before the age of 40, neither Pace nor Nagy was an overnight sensation. Over time, both displayed the kind of grinder mentality needed to get to where they are today. That kind of work ethic tends to pay off over time. So no matter what happens moving forward, it should be clear that hard work pays off in big ways to those who make that push.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Nagy, Pace, and quarterback Mitch Trubisky are all similar in that way. All three are young upstarts at the three most important positions in the sport. Each was overlooked in one way or another before working their way up the ranks because competitive situations drove them to out-work someone else and rise to the top of the ranks.
If the Bears are going to truly turn it around, it will be with Pace, Nagy, and Trubisky leading the way. We don’t have a crystal ball, but it’s hard to bet against work ethic.