Running back David Montgomery has only been a member of the Bears for a week, but the third-round pick already understands and embraces the franchise's storied history, especially at his position.
When Montgomery was growing up in Cincinnati, his grandfather showed him highlight tapes of Hall of Famer Walter Payton. And as Montgomery developed into a three-time all-state selection as a dual-threat quarterback in high school, he looked up to Matt Forte.
As you'd expect, Montgomery was thrilled when he got the chance to meet Forte Thursday night at Halas Hall. Forte was one of 12 former Bears players who shared their experiences and advice while dining with the NFL hopefuls participating in the team's rookie minicamp.
"He's a very, very wise man," Montgomery said, "just being able to pass some of the golden nuggets that he took from playing here and being such a great back. I was definitely trying to be one of those guys to just soak it all in like a sponge."
Montgomery's admiration for Payton started even earlier, describing "Sweetness" as "one of my favorite backs." Payton retired a decade before Montgomery was born, but his grandfather ensured that the young running back knew all about the Bears legend.
"I know a lot about Walter Payton," Montgomery said. "Just his will to not want to do down. Just being able to take advantage of every opportunity that he had and just being always positive."
Payton, who tragically passed away in 1999 at the age of 45 due to bile duct cancer, no doubt would be proud of the work ethic that Montgomery displayed throughout his career at Iowa State.
"It's natural for me," Montgomery said. "I've always been a worker. I enjoy working. I don't really like going out. That's not my thing. Being able to work is definitely a thing I would rather choose than doing something else."
Montgomery believes that his drive and determination stem from growing up in a poor, violent neighborhood.
"I say it comes from what I came from, my environment, not wanting to go back, fearing going back to that, fearing going to be in the streets and fearing actually being hurt from where I'm from," he said. "You just want to take every day one step at a time, give God the glory and just have fun with it."
Montgomery declared for the draft following his junior season at Iowa State. He played in 37 games the past three seasons in Ames, rushing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns on 624 carries and catching 71 passes for 582 yards. Last year he appeared in 12 games, rushing for a career-high 1,216 yards and 13 TDs on 257 attempts and had 22 receptions for 157 yards.
According to Pro Football Focus, Montgomery led the nation in forced missed tackles each of the past two years with 109 in 2017 and 100 in 2018.
The Bears traded up 14 spots in the third round to draft the 5-10, 222-pounder, who impressed them throughout the pre-draft process. He interviewed with the team at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and was one of 30 prospects to make a pre-draft visit to Halas Hall.
"We kinda felt like it was destined," Montgomery said. "I was there in the third round, so they decided to trade up for me and get me. So I was blessed, and I'm definitely highly favored to be here."