Chicago Bears Time

“Arrive on time and you start from behind.”

Today’s story is from Chris Neck.

My daughter’s soccer team. The Chicago Bears. What do they have in common? My daughter wanted to know.

Chicago Bears Time

Tommy Neck (41) in action with Chicago Bears

“Dad,” said GiGe. “Soccer practice starts at 3. When mom takes me, we get there on time. When you take me, we get there at 2:40. Why?”

“Mom’s on the clock most people use,” I said. “Me — I’m on Chicago Bears time.”

GiGe knew her grandpa — my dad — played for the Bears. He was a star. Tommy Neck. Cornerback & Safety. The invincible Chicago Bears.

1962. His rookie year. Practice. The first day. A dream for most athletes, a dream for most men.

Practice was scheduled for 2:00 on the dot. Dad was nervous but ready to rock. He thought, whatever it takes to wow the great coach… the legendary George Halas — “Papa Bear.”

He stepped onto the field at 1:55. To his surprise, the team was already there; hitting, running, tackling, mixing it up.

“Son, you’re late,”

Coach Halas boomed to my dad. Clearly coach called this one wrong, Dad thought.

Chicago Bears time

Tommy Neck (34) playing football for LSU

“No sir, I’m five minutes early. Practice starts at 2,” Dad respectfully said.

Coach Halas grabbed my father by the jersey and yanked him aside.

“When you play for Chicago, you’re on Bears time. When a meeting starts at 2, you’re there 1:40. When a practice starts at 6, you’re ready to hit at 5:40. Got it Neck?”

“Yes sir,” Dad quickly said.

Coach Halas wasn’t convinced. “Don’t walk. Don’t stop. Don’t stand still for a second. You’ll run this entire practice so you’ll never forget.”

Dad never forgot. When he told me, neither did I.

Back to my daughter. GiGe wanted to know.

“Twenty minutes early—why so important?”

The lesson to GiGe passed down from Granddad?

Want to finish first? Show up early.
Arrive on time and you start from behind.

Chicago Bears time

Life after football. Tommy Neck and (ex-)wife Mary Helen , with kids (L-R) Brent and Chris (that’s me!).

Your Comments

  1. Greg

    This is a simple, but powerful lesson. 20 minutes early. Every appointment. Every commitment. Every day of your life. What a positive difference it could make.

  2. David Grieme

    One conflict I have never been able to solve. What to do when you are not married to someone who picked up Coach Halas’s lesson. It is a difficult balancing act 🙂


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