By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) – Before Matt Nagy could look toward his future as Bears head coach, he glanced back at the last decade and a dream that came to fruition.
Often times at Halas Hall on Tuesday, the 39-year-old Nagy drifted to his days in real estate and those conversations that led him to this day. He couldn’t help but to think of the late Tubby Raymond, the University of Delaware coach who believed in him as a player, and mentor Larry Wisdom, who persuaded him to enter the coaching business.
He spoke highly of Brett Veach, the Chiefs’ general manager and his longtime friend dating back to Delaware, and certainly couldn’t forget the support of his wife, Stacey, who has stood by his NFL dream. There were too many names for Nagy to remember, so he will reach out to those forgotten during his introduction as the Bears’ new leader.
Upon his arrival in Lake Forest, Nagy often found himself back home in the small borough of Mannheim, Pennsylvania, where this whole journey began.
“It’s special,” Nagy said as he looked back. “This isn’t just about me for this position. This is about everybody else that’s been in my corner from day one.”
The story of Nagy is one filled with good people and faith. A star quarterback at little Mannheim Central, he dreamed of playing at an Alabama but landed in Delaware. Nagy had aspirations of playing in the NFL but wound up playing in the Arena Football League. He threw 374 touchdowns in six seasons, but the league hit hard times and canceled its 2009 season.
All Nagy wanted was a future in football and a chance like this in Chicago. Along the way, there were people who just kept believing in him.
Nagy worked a real estate job while managing a coaching internship with the Eagles, then finally got his break in 2010 when Andy Reid offered him the chance to become an assistant. Stacey was there by his side as Nagy took a major drop in pay to follow his dream. Reid promoted him again, moving him to a quality control role a year later, then brought him with to Kansas City as quarterbacks coach in 2013 and named him offensive coordinator in 2017.
“Words don’t do it justice,” Nagy said of Reid.
Reid knew well that Nagy was ready for the chance to become an NFL head coach, and so did the Bears. General manager Ryan Pace was drawn to Nagy’s name based on nearly 30 references and ample research.
Sure enough, Pace would become the latest believer in Nagy. He sees a young, driven coach whom he envisions maximizing the team’s investment in young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and bringing a cutting-edge offense to Chicago. They bonded over similar upbringings, cutting their teeth as interns with the aspirations to be great.
Pace stayed in Kansas City on Sunday night and had his wife, Stephanie, sit down with the Nagys for dinner.
“There are a lot of guys that can win an interview or win a press conference,” Pace said. “But you’ve got to look for the substance behind it all. And Matt has a ton of substance.”
Nagy did win the press conference, one in which he appeared humbled by the opportunity. When it came to talking football, he kept his cards tight to the vest. Nagy offered few hints to his coaching staff and schemes on either side of the football.
Nagy is an unknown as a head coach – a bright, charismatic, confident individual who could either win big or fail big in Chicago. It remains to be seen how he’ll handle the development of Trubisky, utilize young players like Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen or what he has in store for a budding defense.
There’s great work to be done for Nagy, whose Bears went 14-34 over the last three seasons and haven’t made the playoffs since 2010. This job will be a challenge, but it’s something for which he has long prepared. Those are tasks that he began to embrace Tuesday as soon as Nagy walked out of the media center and up to his new office.
This day was about the journey from Lancaster County to Halas Hall and a dream fulfilled.
“And I’m still pinching myself,” he said.