Since signing with the Bears in September, Mario Edwards Jr. has made his presence known, recording his second sack of the season against the Tennessee Titans last Sunday. Here are five things you may not know about the defensive end:
(1) He had a front-row seat to NFL history.
Mario Edwards Sr. played five seasons in the NFL, mostly for the Dallas Cowboys. That meant that an eight-year-old Mario Jr. had prime seats in Seattle when Emmitt Smith broke Walter Payton's career rushing record on Oct. 27, 2002.
"Once he broke the record," said Edwards, "I remember the stadium going crazy. I remember going into the facilities, getting in the hot tub, seeing Dave Campo, Darren Woods. I almost felt like I was a part of the team back then."
After his father's playing career ended, the family stayed in the Dallas area.
(2) Mario Edwards Sr. played a different position, which played to Mario Jr.'s benefit.
Mario Edwards Jr. cuts an imposing figure, but his father was much smaller and played cornerback. Although they play different positions, the contrast ended up being foundational for Mario Jr.'s career.
The younger Edwards was always big for his age. He was roughly the size of Kyle Fuller by the time he was 10 years old. However, his father still pushed him to train as a receiver and running back. Once Edwards moved to the line, he retained the skills he had learned.
"My dad basically took that and made me go through the ladders," said Edwards, "and do all the receivers and DB drills. I think that's what helped me with my footwork, my quick twitch."
Beyond athleticism, Edwards took his approach to professional football from his father.
"You either get better, or you get worse," said Edwards. "You never stay the same. Even though you're four, five, six years in, you can always learn something."
(3) He was the highest-ranked current Bears player as a high school recruit.
In high school, Edwards was considered the best defensive line prospect since Oregon signee Haloti Ngata in 2002. Among all positions, Rivals.com ranked him third, and 247.com ranked him second. However, Edwards doesn't put much stock in those two recruiting services.
"The one I go by was ESPN," said Edwards, "before they started padding it with the ESPN300. They had me No. 1. My dad told me that I could be that, but to see it come true was surreal."
Across most outlets, Edwards was ranked just a few spots above future Florida State teammate Eddie Goldman.
(4) He's a real deal country guy.
Edwards was born in Mississippi and raised in Texas. His heart lies with the rural parts of those states.
"I'm really a country boy, man," said Edwards. "I love to hunt. I love to fish. I love riding horses, four-wheelers, things like that. I'm really an outside guy."
Edwards owns property in Texas, which he uses to hunt wild boars.
(5) He owns a trucking business.
Earlier this year, Edwards decided to diversify his finances. He bought a trucking company, which has since signed contracts with Home Depot and Nebraska Furniture Mart.
Edwards sees his post-football future in running his company and dabbling in real estate.
"You're not going to play in the NFL for long," said Edwards. "The average career is about two-and-a-half, three years long. I always said when I retired, I wanted to make money while I was sleeping. I've been doing investments like that."