By Doug Fernandes, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
The answers to this pop quiz won’t be found anywhere in his new playbook.
Q: What makes up a Chicago Dog?
A: “Dude, I have no clue,” Trey Burton said. “I just left a Philly cheesesteak. I haven’t read up too much about a Chicago hot dog.”
Q: OK, how about the first names of Butkus and Sayers?
A: “Dick Butkus and … aaahhh, give me the first letter.”
“Gale. It’s close.”
The Chicago Bears weren’t about to treat their newest free-agent prize so cavalierly. Trey Burton jetted first row, first class into the Windy City. His opening news conference as a Bear was attended by at least 50 media members.
A 1-yard touchdown pass in the Super Bowl thrust the name of the former Venice High and Florida Gator star into the public consciousness. But NFL teams knew well the skill set that accompanied that name. A total of six formed a line to Burton’s front door. Then the wooing started.
“It was a pretty big market,” he said. “I know for sure we had six offers from different teams and a lot of them were really good offers. A lot of teams that we really respected and it made it a really tough decision for my agent and me and my family.”
Four of the offers were within one or two million dollars of each other in guaranteed money, which wasn’t Burton’s driving force. Surprised?
“There’s a ton of research that needs to be done in a short amount of time and (teams) want to hear back,” he said. “It was an unbelievable experience, something that’s extremely unique. Obviously not as unique as the Super Bowl, but I would definitely put it right up there.”
Burton liked the passion of Chicago fans and rich history of the Bears franchise. He liked the team’s quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, and the promise shown by its 2017 first-round pick. He liked Matt Nagy, the Bears’ new head coach, calling him a “rock star” and the “real deal.” His offense in Chicago will be the same one Burton ran in Philadelphia, another plus.
All that was left was for Burton to like the contract the Bears put in front of him. And what was there not to like — four years for $32 million, with $22 million guaranteed?
“There’s going to be a ton of people who are going to be able to benefit off of it,” he said. “A lot of non-profit organizations, a lot of churches. We’re going to be able to help a lot of people and that’s where our heart is.
“We’re not trying to take all this money and put it in the bank and sit on it. We’re going to try to help as many people as we possibly can and get us in the community and get our feet dirty.”
Burton will head up to Chicago the beginning of next month. April 3 is the first day Bears players are allowed at the team’s complex to interact with coaches.
He’s looked online at places to live and been mildly shocked by Chicago’s property taxes. “One thing I do know,” he said, “is there’s a $48-a night hotel I’ll be staying at during OTAs (organized team activities).”
Burton doesn’t know what his role on the Bears will be. “I’m ready to do whatever.” As long as it contributes to winning, he’ll be happy.
“I know what I can do. I’m extremely confident in myself and really happy and excited that I have a chance to show off my talents.”
Just remember, Trey. It’s Gale. Gale Sayers.