Montez Sweat has made a monumental impact on and off the field since being acquired by the Bears Oct. 31 in a trade with the Commanders.
The star defensive end has recorded 6.0 sacks in six games with the Bears after compiling 6.5 sacks in eight contests with Washington. He leads both teams in sacks and is bidding to become the first NFL player to do so in a season.
Sweat feels the key to stepping in and contributing immediately was "really just being myself."
"Football is football," he said. "Just going in and being humble and learning the defense and learning how other guys around me like to play and just matching their energy. It's been fun."
Sweat has helped spark a defensive resurgence, especially forcing turnovers. The Bears have generated 11 takeaways, including nine interceptions, in their last four games, the most in the NFL during that span.
"The tape speaks for itself, not just on the field though," said middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. "His leadership is good. His presence is felt in the building, in the meeting rooms. Guys gravitate towards him. Guys gravitate towards his leadership. And just having his energy around, his energy is contagious. You can feel that, not just on the field but off the field as well."
Sweat's impact off the field extends well beyond Halas Hall. On Monday night, he attended the Crushers Club holiday party in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, where he arrived bearing gifts. Sweat mingled with the 45 or so kids in attendance and gave away two PlayStation 5 consoles, three iPads and 60 hoodies that he had purchased.
"It's real surreal for us," Crushers Club founder and president Sally Hazelgrove said of Sweat's visit. "Here in Englewood, we're in our own little corner and our own world. It makes everyone feel so special, his generosity. It's amazing."
Earlier this month, the Crushers Club was announced as the Bears' 2023 Community All-Pros winner and the recipient of a $104,000 grant. The organization was recognized for its efforts to provide at-risk youth in Englewood an alternative to gangs through programming, employment and a safe haven to combat gun violence and crime.
Sweat visited the Crushers Club because "I just want to give back to kids in need."
"It's very important," he said, "when you're blessed with so much, you want to give back, and it'll come back full circle."
Sweat helped judge a dance contest and posed for photos Monday night. The appearance reminded him of when he admired athletes while growing up in Georgia—including during a stint as a water boy for a high school football team when he was about 13.
"It makes me go back to my childhood when I was having fun," Sweat said. "Anything to shed light on these children, it felt good."