By Steve Robinson | April 20, 2019 - 10:52 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

NORMAL – At last year’s “Evening With The Stars” event to benefit Heartland Red Cross, the audience was treated to hear about life as quarterback of the Green Bay Packers thanks to Aaron Rodgers’ appearance. But this year, at the 26th annual event to benefit the Heartland Red Cross, the 1,100 guests heard from the man currently leading “The Monsters Of The Midway” who was named National Football League’s Coach Of The Year for 2018 having gotten his team in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy responded to questions put to him by WJBC Radio play-by-play man Dick Luedke during a wide ranging conversation which lasted nearly an hour.

Nagy’s appearance scored with the local American Red Cross chapter, as the benefit generated $275,000-$300,000 for the organization.

In the ballroom of the Carol A. Reitan Conference Center at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel, Nagy touched on his childhood, his playing career in Arena Football, and how he went into coaching. Nagy, the product of divorced parents, told the gathering his mother’s telling him he should “’treat people with respect’ had the most impact on me.” It was an opening line that brought applause from those attending the gathering.

Not wanting to take anything away from his father, he explained, Nagy said his maternal grandfather had the most impact on him “because he believed in me the most. When someone believes in you, it’s amazing what can happen.”

From 2002-2008, Nagy played for four separate Arena Football League teams in New Jersey, North Carolina, Atlanta, Ga., and Columbus, Ohio, and tried out for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles winding up on their practice squad before hanging up his cleats and deciding he would like to enter the coaching ranks.

“I knew football had to be part of my life,” Nagy, 40, told the gathering. But at the time, after having graduated from University of Delaware, he found himself selling real estate. But a phone call from Andy Reid, then head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, led to an offer to be an intern on Reid’s staff in 2008-2009. From there, he was named an assistant coach on Reid’s staff for the next three seasons in Philadelphia. When Reid was fired by the Eagles after the 2012 season and became head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, Reid tabbed Nagy to join him as the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach. By 2016 with the Chiefs, Reid promoted Nagy to be Offensive Coordinator.

The Bears’ first season under Nagy ended due to a wild card round game field goal, losing to Philadelphia, 16-15. With regard to his first season with Chicago, Nagy told the gathering he recently held a meeting with the team showing tape of highs and lows the team had experienced.

“When that video stopped, you could hear a pin drop, considering the feeling we had, and that’s okay,” Nagy said, adding, “I want to take any losses we’ve had and turn them into a positive. That’s the only way we’re looking at this year.” That was another applause line for the coach from the fans present.

Nagy admitted “Taking chances is in my DNA. I believe in aggressiveness, and I believe in dictating the pace both offensively and defensively. I’m not looking back with any regrets. That’s our motto and that’s who I am. I wish I could tell you a better answer, but that’s just where I am.” It was another line which generated applause from the audience. Taking such chances may have helped Nagy earn NFL’s Coach of the Year honor at the end of last season.

Nagy said receiving that honor “talks about who our players are,” adding he has no intention of putting the physical award that the honor comes with in his Halas Hall office. Without mentioning the Super Bowl championship Vince Lombardi Trophy by name, he added, “There is a better award that I want, and we all know what that is.” It was another applause line the fans responded to.

Nagy said building trust with his players was the hardest part going into the first year. Explaining building trust takes time when dealing with players, Nagy said he accomplished that “by being honest with them, by caring, but you also let them know that you can be tough, too.” He said he reads books on leadership to help him wax up and learn from other leaders.

Luedke tried to get Nagy to provide a clue as to what choices the Bears would make in the upcoming NFL Draft, but Nagy remained tight lipped on the subject. The coach also had praise for his new incoming defensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano, the former Indianapolis Colts head coach. “We were super lucky to get him in here. The sky’s the limit with what he can teach our guys.”

Nagy, a married father of four boys, closed out the night by telling the audience, “he’s learning on the run” as far as handling the experience was concerned. As to parenting, Nagy recalled being told by a Philadelphia assistant coach that parenting “isn’t about the presents you give your kids, but it’s about your presence.” It was another applause line for the coach as he heads into his second year.

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 20th, 2019 at 10:52 pm and is filed under The Normalite. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.