I can only speak for myself, but I believe in “culture change” as a real thing. Because even though it’s not something tangible or that will show up in a box score, it is one of those things you know when you see, hear, or read about it. But still … “culture change “can land somewhere between being a nebulous concept talked about in sports and a buzzy catch-phrase that is said because it happens to be the flavor of the current time.
Which brings us to Bears right tackle Bobby Massie, whose words and actions confirm the tangible changes in Chicago.
“I made a lot of money already,” Massie said, via JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. “And what’s the point of going somewhere else, to a losing team and or even to a winning team somewhere that I don’t like or don’t feel comfortable just for a few extra dollars? Because really at the end of the day, how much money do you really need? You know what I mean? I’m happy here.”
It was not all that long ago when players were spurning big-money offers from the Bears to take less from a team that appeared to be in a more competitive window or because the situation was more comfortable than what they thought it would be in Chicago. Those rejections spoke to the difficulty a team with a losing record and a less-than-desirable rep can have in making a splash in free agency. But now, it is the Bears retaining players because they are happy where they are at the moment. *THAT* is what culture change looks like.
To be clear, Massie did not re-sign on the cheap. But his deal is a bit more team-friendly than we originally realized and there were probably a few million dollars Massie could have pulled in had he reached unrestricted free agency. Massie’s actions (and words) spoke volumes about what he thought about the team and its future. And it isn’t the first time Massie has spoken out about his feelings for Chicago and the Bears (let alone his aspirations for greatness in the Windy City).
We often talked about the Bears’ culture change as the team went from a last-place also-ran in the NFC North to division champions in Matt Nagy’s first year as head coach. And even though it is possible that this “culture change” came because the Bears pulled off a worst-to-first turnaround, it feels like putting it that way feels like an oversimplification. So while there is not a place for “culture change” in the stat sheet, the words (and actions) of one Bears offensive linemen go a long way toward driving home the idea that “culture change” in Chicago is real.