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Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

What can we make of Justin Fields’ unusual Bears legacy?

Photo credited to: Kevin Fishbain

On Saturday, false hope hit inevitability: the Bears officially moved on from quarterback Justin Fields. The Bears shipped off 2021 first-round pick Fields to the Steelers for a 6th-round pick, practically guaranteeing they would be drafting quarterback prospect Caleb Williams in April.

It has been the only logical path for the Bears since they secured the Carolina Panthers’ first overall pick in December. Fields had been struggling to break out of mediocrity since entering the league, and a spotty third season highlighted his shortcomings. There was no legitimate reason to stick with a faltering Fields, soon due for a contract extension, when a potentially generational quarterback prospect is in our hands.

Yet, the official end to the Fields era deflated the Bears fanbase, inciting outrage and depression amidst one of the team’s strongest offseasons in years. It’s an anomaly. How can a QB with a career record of 10-28, who was among the bottom of the league in almost every statistic, be so beloved by a cutthroat Chicago fanbase that ousted Jay Cutler and Mitch Trubisky with pitchforks and torches?

He remained loyal to the city. Fields’ athleticism was unmatched and it was a joy to watch every Sunday. He was one of the main reasons why the Bears were so fun to watch when we rebuilt our roster.

— Abel Stephen, sophomore

“Fields remained loyal to the city. His athleticism was unmatched and it was a joy to watch every Sunday. He was one of the main reasons why the Bears were so fun to watch when we rebuilt our roster,” sophomore and Fields fanatic Abel Stephen said when asked to reflect on Fields’ time as Bears quarterback.

Stephen’s perspective highlights what makes Fields so different from Chicago quarterback failures in recent memory: sky-high potential and enduring character. Unlike Trubisky, who was a bad draft pick with a low ceiling, Fields’ selection in the 2021 draft ignited hope in the eyes of Bears fans. He was electric at Ohio State, and even amidst his struggles in the NFL, freakishly athletic plays showed flashes of what a fully realized Fields could look like. That kept Bears fans hooked. And unlike Cutler, who was very gifted but an infamously bad leader, Fields put his heart into the game day in and day out. Win or loss, the latter especially in his rookie and sophomore seasons when he had little to work with, Fields stood tall at the podium in Halas Hall. On the sidelines, he ignited passion and morale in his teammates even if it never led anywhere. Every party involved cared. Every party wanted it to work. But it didn’t. Fields had grown too old in the league to remain so uncertain. It was time to move on. For Bears fans citywide who had envisioned and embraced the idea of Justin Fields as their star quarterback, that is difficult to come to terms with.

Fields now plays second-fiddle on the Steelers’ depth chart behind Russell Wilson. The mentorship of Wilson and the development of Head Coach Mike Tomlin may be just what Fields needs to reach his evasive full potential. Whether with the Steelers or not, Fields will get another chance to lead his team under center once again. He is too talented not to.

GM Ryan Poles and the Bears organization headline a terrific offseason with the signing of breakout running back D’Andre Swift and the acquisition of superstar wide receiver Keenan Allen. In addition to the offensive upgrades, the Bears hold their own ninth-overall pick where they will strengthen their wide receiver room or look to patch up their offensive or defensive line. Caleb Williams, who looks to make an impact on day one, will walk into one of the strongest rosters a top prospect has ever begun with. The Bears’ future is brighter than any student at this school can remember, yet a gloomy cloud of Fields’ absence hangs over fans. 

Perhaps Fields believers’ fears and paranoia will come true, and Caleb Williams will be a bust, while in the hands of another team, Fields sprouts into the superstar we’d once believed him to be. Or perhaps, the Caleb Williams-led era will turn out lucrative and NFC Championship tickets will wipe off our tears. Today, the latter seems much more likely. But only time will tell Justin Fields’ legacy.

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About the Contributor
Sam Dababneh
Sam Dababneh, Review Editor & Asst. Sports Editor
Sam Dababneh is a Sophmore at Niles North High school. This is his second year on North Star News.

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