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Gerald Everett reunites with OC Shane Waldron, brings 'Bully Ball' mentality to Bears

Gerald Everett pushes through multiple tackles during the Chargers game against the Jets Nov. 6, 2023.
Gerald Everett pushes through multiple tackles during the Chargers game against the Jets Nov. 6, 2023.

New Bears tight end Gerald Everett and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron first met in 2017 before the NFL Draft. Waldron, the Rams' new tight ends coach at the time, flew out to Atlanta with several other coaches to conduct a pre-draft workout with Everett at a local high school.

While Everett's abilities as a route runner caught Waldron's attention from a physical standpoint, the coach also learned about the tight end as a person. Waldron was drawn to Everett's atypical story – he didn't play football until his senior year of high school then had to transfer colleges when the University of Alabama at Birmingham shut down its football program.

Everett remembers that 30-minute workout just as clearly as Waldron. The workout itself was "nothing too crazy," but Everett felt the chaos and uncertainty of the entire process. In that moment, Waldron was the person to steady the ship.

"I just remember being in that whirlwind of a cycle and then just trying to figure out what was going to happen," Everett told ChicagoBears.com, "and Shane being one of the guys that just was like, 'Hey, how are you feeling,' actually asking how you're doing rather than just evaluating you. So I think that was big. And for me to be drafted by them and for him to coach me was even bigger."

The Rams went on to select Everett with the 44th overall pick, which paired him with Waldron in Los Angeles for the next four seasons. Over than span, he accumulated 1,389 yards, 127 receptions and eight touchdowns.

After Waldron took his first offensive coordinator role with the Seahawks Jan. 26, 2021, it took just two months for Everett to join him in Seattle, where he spent one season and recorded 478 yards, 48 catches and a career-high four touchdowns.

While Everett spent the last two seasons with the Chargers, he's excited once agan rejoin Waldron, this time in Chicago. The pair's successful history along with their longstanding relationship away from football were major factors in Everett signing a two-year deal with the Bears.

"Shane's confidence is evident, especially with the places he's been and the success he's had," Everett said. "Every OC, every play caller has a different set of tools and they're able to deploy them in different ways. When I was at the Rams and I saw how Shane would isolate me and use me in ways that I wasn't used in college and I was actually productive with him, that's when I really became a big fan of Shane. And he's an even better person off the field and away from the facility. He's a real guy, and it only makes you want to play for guys like that."

Those feelings are mutual for Waldron, who was "fired up when we signed Gerald" and is "excited to get another playmaker on our offense." While Waldron is eager to utilize Everett in the Bears' new offense, he's equally as thrilled to reunite with a friend and someone he's watched transform from a rookie to a veteran.

"It's been fun to see Gerald grow as a person, as a player at different stops as he's continued to develop his professional career," Waldron told ChicagoBears.com. "But then also staying in touch with him on the personal side and knowing that this does get to be a crazy business at times, but it's still a relationship based business. Having a relationship with a player like Gerald where you kind of keep track of him, whether you're coaching him or not, and knowing that that's someone you'd want to stay in touch with as lifelong friends outside of football, it's an important thing.

"It does make parts of the process when you get to different points of it easier and more comfortable because you know what the style of person is, style of player and it gets exciting to be able to work together again."

Check out new Bears tight end Gerald Everett in action. (Photos via AP)

Waldron isn't the only familiar face on the coaching staff to Everett. He worked with offensive passing game coordinator Thomas Brown while at the Rams and wide receivers coach Chris Beatty at the Chargers.

Much like Waldron, Beatty also commended Everett's veteran mentality, recalling how the tight end started Friday night team dinners with the Chargers. While Everett possesses leadership qualities that will positively impact the locker room, Beatty knows his most valuable assets are his physicality and elusiveness that earned him the nickname "Bully Ball" in L.A.

"We played a Thursday night game in Kansas City Week 2 of his first year with us. He caught a ball down their sideline, and he just mushed a guy," Beatty said. "And that's when it first started. I was like, 'man, this dude just bullies cats with the ball in his hands.' It's funny because when he signed, [former Chargers offensive coordinator] Kellen Moore sent me a text talking about 'Bully Ball is back,' so that's a good way to describe him."

From then on, Beatty said that every time Everett made a play, which was often, every coach on the headsets would get excited and say "Bully Ball is real."

"He was just like a bull in a China shop," Beatty added. "That's something that very few tight ends can do as well as he does. He's a more willing blocker than people think. I've seen that. He wants to stick his face in there and block people. I think that's an underrated part of his game that people will get to see in Chicago."

That "Bully Ball" mentality is one Everett made his M.O. throughout his career, leading him to rank seventh among tight ends in average yards after the catch per reception in 2022 and fifth in 2023. He takes pride in being known as a player who is tough to bring down, adding: "it feels good to know that other teams are paying attention to me because of that."

Embracing that physical style of play stems from Everett trying to set himself apart in any sport during his childhood.

"Since I was a kid playing football in the backyard, it was just something where you don't let one guy tackle you," Everett said. "Playing video games, you don't let one guy tackle you. Professional athlete or collegiately or even an amateur, if you can do something, do it. Otherwise, it's just wasted. So I've been fortunate to be able to carry that with me."

Everett is ready to bring that energy to the Bears, add to the culture in Chicago and work with new teammates like fellow tight end Cole Kmet.

He's also excited about teaming back up with his former Chargers teammate, veteran receiver Keenan Allen, who the Bears acquired in a trade Thursday. Between him and Allen, combined with Waldron's expertise, Everett is optimistic about his move to the Bears.

"I think they're gonna get what they bargained for," Everett said. "I think it's gonna be a good situation this year. I think we're gonna have a lot of production. We're gonna have a lot of cohesion in our room. The sky's the limit for us — especially with Shane calling the plays."

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