Cody Whitehair has been the anchor of the Bears offensive line since he arrived in Chicago as a rookie in 2016. Here are five things you may not know about the Bears' starting center.
(1) He's not the most famous alum of Abilene (KS) High School.
Many players on the Bears roster went to the same school as another professional athlete with roughly equal or more cultural cache. Boyd Anderson High in Florida produced Eddie Jackson, but also Asante Samuel and Mitch Richmond. Nick Foles went to Westlake High in Texas, but so did Drew Brees.
However, even if Whitehair was named an All-Pro every year for the next decade and retired as the greatest player to ever snap a football, it still wouldn't top planning the allied invasion of Normandy.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, five-star general and 34th President of the United States, graduated from Abilene High in 1909, over a century before Whitehair earned a diploma from the same high school with less than 500 students.
(2) He was a real deal farm kid.
Like many people who grew up in rural Kansas, Whitehair's early years were dominated by agriculture. His paternal grandfather owned a wheat farm, which Whitehair's dad worked at part-time, in addition to working as an agronomist as his main job. This meant that Whitehair was well-versed in farmwork from an early age.
"I'd help work cattle," said Whitehair, "run the grain cart for the wheat harvest. Just odds and ends jobs."
(3) He's been a Kansas State die-hard his entire life.
The Whitehairs settled in the area in 1875, and for much of that time, they've been supporters of the university located in Manhattan, Kansas. Four generations of the extended family have attended the school, and the Whitehairs were named the KSU Family of the Year in September of this year.
When it came time for Cody to decide on a school, he didn't really consider any other option.
"I grew up going to the K-State games," said Whitehair, "watching the teams that Bill Snyder put together and the success both on the field and off the field."
Snyder, a Hall of Fame coach, retired in 2005 but returned in 2009, just in time to recruit Cody to play for the Wildcats.
(4) He's picked up a new hobby in Chicago.
Given his upbringing, it shouldn't be a surprise that Whitehair considers hunting and fishing to be two of his main hobbies. Since arriving in Chicago, he's mostly stopped hunting, but he has added a Great Lakes variation on the past time: ice fishing.
"The coolest part is just being out on a big body of water," said Whitehair, "and being able to drill a hole and throw a line in. It's pretty sweet. When a fish hits that line, it's quite the adrenaline rush."
(5) He was a Cubs fan long before the Bears drafted him.
Whitehair grew up two and a half hours from the nearest professional baseball team, the Kansas City Royals. Due to the distance, he didn't feel any particular allegiance to the Royals and instead gravitated to the Chicago Cubs. Whitehair was attracted by the team's underdog identity and the frequency with which local radio stations would carry their games.
"They would always be on the radio," said Whitehair. "When I would be helping do stuff at the farm, they would always be on. I just tuned in and got to like the Cubs."
Everything came together in 2016 when the Bears drafted Whitehair in April, and the Cubs won the World Series in November.