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Jaquan Brisker Story

Jaquan Brisker creates energy, competition through leadership

Story by Gabby Hajduk

During every 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 team period throughout offseason practices, the Bears defense made its presence known — both vocally and physically.

While each player has their own celebration like Kyler Gordon's Spider-Man webs or Tyrique Stevenson's seatbelt strap, the entire defensive unit has bought into one distinct move — hanging their arms up and flapping their hands down.

The celebration has a variety of meanings, according to safety Jaquan Brisker, who is responsible for the move that is seen at least a dozen times each practice.

"It just means no flex zone," Brisker said. "Don't talk too much stuff over here. You're not gonna celebrate. So just calm that down."

At the surface level, the gesture is a simple way for the defense to celebrate an incomplete pass or an off-target throw. But to Brisker it signifies more in his third year with the Bears.

What started as one of his college celebrations at Penn State has transformed into unity across the defense and assurance of his leadership at the NFL level.

"It's been huge because you could just tell that the players are really engaged, they're feeding off my energy and we're playing together," Brisker told "So when there's an incomplete pass, guys are flapping their hands. It creates energy. A lot of passion out there for the guys, and we're all together on it."


Cornerback Jaylon Johnson, another staple in the Bears defense, saw the defensive backs group gravitate toward the safety's celebration during practices and games last season. Now, the entire defense is in on it.

"He's just somebody that always brings energy," Johnson said, "so when he did it of course it was just like 'okay, that's our new little thing. We're just gonna take it all over.'"

Throughout the last two years, Johnson has witnessed Brisker's full evolution from "a rookie trying to figure things out" into a confident playmaker, whose voice is welcomed and respected.

Johnson remembers seeing Brisker and cornerback Kyler Gordon get thrown right into the mix as day one starters for the 2022 season. While Brisker had to grow comfortable with himself in that first year, the shift in confidence ahead of the 2023 season was apparent to Johnson.

"When we came back for OTAs, minicamp and all of that, he definitely had a different swag that I was able to see clearly," Johnson said. "Then of course, throughout camp, him talking and communicating, making certain plays, making certain reads to where it showed a lot of maturity from year one to year two.

"He's just full of energy, full of a lot of words. I mean, he's always talking. He's always being competitive, a lot of juice. So just allowing himself to be who he is. I think now it's just continuing to light the stage up as far as his energy and playmaking goes."


Brisker felt as though he had to "find his way" that first season with the Bears and let his play do the talking for him. Throughout his sophomore season, he combined his playmaking ability — finishing the year with 105 tackles, nine passes defensed and two interceptions — with his desire to be more vocal with his teammates.

That mindset from Brisker was also noticeable to coach Matt Eberflus, who called the safety's leadership abilities natural.

"I just think he took ownership going into a second year that he was gonna elevate his game," Eberflus said. "And part of elevation of game is the communication side of it. When you play at a high level and you communicate at a high level, people respect you. And that's where the leadership comes from. Leadership is about doing. And he did the job. That's where I saw him grow the most. And I'm gonna see him grow more this year."

“I want to win. I'm a winner. I don't want to be on the losing side. So just coming in, working hard every single day, that’s what makes me hungry. Especially with these guys, I want to be able to make it to playoffs with them and hoist the trophy. I envision that and I see it.” Jaquan Brisker

Brisker's aspiration to be a focal point of the Bears locker room stems his childhood in Pittsburgh, when he idolized NFL players like Brian Dawkins, Richard Sherman and Deion Sanders. Not only were those three players star defensive backs, they also shared a common trait — they brought the energy.

Since Brisker started playing football, he remembers being a leader for his teammates. Often one of the most talented players on his teams, Brisker realized he had a responsibility to set a high standard and bring players up to his level. Through watching players like Dawkins, Sherman and Sanders, Brisker learned he could accomplish those tasks through his enthusiasm and passion for the game.

While Brisker exhibited that as a two-time captain for Gateway Senior High School, he really found his voice during his two years at Lackawanna Community College from 2017-18 before finishing his college career at Penn State.

"I could always get guys to talk, get guys ready to play and things like that, but I took the next step in junior college," Brisker said. "That's when I was really controlling the whole team — offense and defense. Not that I wasn't in high school, but I feel like I was more open. I could see everybody, if that makes sense. I could see the game different. I could talk to coaches. I could have a conversation with an offensive player. Because with leaders, it's not just an on the field thing. It's an off the field thing too."

Once Brisker reached the NFL, his goals remained the same, but he found new motivations. He understood the importance of being drafted by the Bears in 2022 — becoming one of general manager Ryan Poles and Eberflus' first selections in their respective positions.

"It means a lot because they wanted us to come in here and win a championship," Brisker said. "Kyler and I were their first two picks — they handpicked us. It means a lot that they want us to change this around and they feel like we could be the guys to do it. So I take that very seriously every single day.

"I want to win. I'm a winner. I don't want to be on the losing side. So just coming in, working hard every single day, that's what makes me hungry. Especially with these guys, I want to be able to make it to playoffs with them and hoist the trophy. I envision that and I see it."


Brisker's competitive nature is one of his qualities that continue to drive teammates and coaches toward him. Johnson noted that while Brisker "is almost too damn competitive," that trait is one "we can all take and appreciate — that he truly wants to win and is going to push everybody up to their competitive level as well."

From Eberflus' perspective, Brisker "is definitely a light for our football team" as his enthusiasm and passion for his craft are "contagious for everybody."

To the third-year pro, that competitiveness is simply a desire to keep proving himself as a playmaker. The addition of veteran safety Kevin Byard III this offseason will also allow Brisker more flexibility on the field, adding to his playmaking opportunities.

While he continues to serve as a leader for a Bears defense with high aspirations this season, Brisker is also eager to excel in his personal growth.

"I feel like the Bears haven't gotten the best version of me yet," Brisker said. "I feel like it's going to happen this year. … Having both of us move left and right, is going to be good for the both of us. We get the best of both worlds, which is good.

"It's going to show a lot of what I can do in the back end at free safety, my range. Obviously, you guys see it out there but you're going to see it more this year — my range, how I can make more plays on the ball."

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