For Bears fans throughout Lake County, next week's start of training camp for the 2015 NFL season is met with equal parts anticipation and trepidation.
They aren't alone.
Even some former Bears players can see the glass both half full and half empty as the team heads for Bourbonnais and the first camp under new coach John Fox.
Five former Bears were together recently at All-Pro Sports Performance in Gurnee for a fundraiser for the Waukegan Invaders youth track program, and two things were very evident at the event:
The former players are every bit as curious to see how the team will fare under the new regime as the fans are.
Among fans, the Bears are king in the county, with even former Bears being treated like royalty.
Former Bears Alex Brown(defensive end, 2002-2009 with the Bears), Jason McKie(fullback, 2003-2009),Johnny Knox (wideout, 2009-2011), Anthony Adams(defensive tackle, 2007-2011) and Antonio Harris (fullback, 2005 signee) were at the All-Pro physical fitness training facility for the meet-and-greet.
For $20, a fan received a picture of one of the former players and got it autographed. Some fans brought footballs or jerseys to have signed.
Much of the talk throughout the evening was about the current Bears team, and how it will do under new leadership.
"I think they'll be good They've got a good coach in John Fox and two good coordinators in Adam Gase and Vic Fangio. I think both sides of the ball will be improved," McKie said. "John Fox is a guy who has been in the league for a long time. I think he's the right guy to get that done."
Brown was interested in talking defense, as the team is moving from a 4-3 defensive front to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
"It's going to be interesting to see how coach Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio implement this new 3-4 scheme," Brown said. "When you move from a 4-3 to a 3-4, things are definitely different. You need different types of players. I want to see how the players adjust."
Brown also has thoughts on a Bears offense that will be led once again by the enigmatic Jay Cutler.
"Has anyone figured out the riddle of Jay Cutler?" Brown said.
While the Bears' future may be uncertain, what was obvious was that the fundraiser was a huge success. The training facility was jammed with fans young and old in support of Ken Almond's youth track program that's based in Waukegan.
When the Bears are heading to camp next week, around a dozen of Almond's top runners will be heading to Florida to compete in the USA Track & Field Junior Olympics, which brings together the country's top young athletes.
"We've been having a great year so far. The kids are looking really good," Almond said.
The former Bears were gracious in helping the track athletes. All-Pro Sports Performance — which was founded by McKie, Brown, former Bear running back Adrian Peterson, and Waukegan native Rob May — offered to match the money raised for the club.
"We all got an opportunity, so any time you have a chance like this to help young kids, we're all for it," McKie said. "We're fortunate that we can use our experience as a platform for young kids to better themselves. It's very rewarding."
Almond said that the money raised will be used to get the Invader athletes to Florida, and also for equipment and uniforms.
"All the kids were excited about getting to meet guys who played for the Bears," Almond said. "Heck, I'm excited too. We've been looking forward to it."
Orignal Link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/sports/ct-lns-chicago-bears-waukegan-invaders-st-0724-20150723-story.html