Bears coach Matt Nagy spent Monday paying his respects to Chicago Fire Department diver Juan Bucio, who died May 28 while searching for a man who fell into the Chicago River.
Nagy attended Bucio’s funeral at St. Rita of Cascia Chapel on Chicago’s South Side, saying that he felt it was “the right thing to do.”
“You remind your players every day of the sacrifice that they’re going through as players,” Nagy said. “It’s a lot of energy, there’s tiredness, there’s feeling sorry for yourself at times. And you talk about a guy like Zach Miller, a guy that almost loses his leg, and there’s sacrifices. So I’m not taking anything away from our players at all.
“But at the same time you try to put it into perspective into somebody that loses their life trying to save somebody else. That’s real. That’s just the human element, the human side of it. There are a lot of guys on our team that we talked about that situation and it’s hard.”
Nagy, who chatted with some members of the Chicago Fire Department who watched an OTA practice last week at Halas Hall, felt that it was important to attend Bucio’s funeral.
“This is a city,” Nagy said. “We’re together. This is everybody. This isn’t about the Chicago Bears or the city; this is all of us together and I just felt it was important to be able to show support from this organization.
“It was a moment that I'll never forget, just to see all the support that he had and his family had. It just goes to show what this city is all about, and everybody much they care for each other, and how we’re all here for one another. I just felt that was the right thing to do and I'm very glad I did it.”
Bears coaches and players applauded the organization for signing Miller to a one-year contract despite the fact he may never play football again due to the serious leg injury he sustained last season against the Saints.
“Everybody in here that knows Zach knows that he fits everything that we’re about,” Nagy told reporters. “A very unfortunate situation, but things happen for a reason in a lot of cases. He’s had such a great attitude throughout this whole thing. I know it hurts that right now he’s unable to be a part of it physically, but he’s doing everything that he possibly can to be back to full health.
“Mentally, the person that he is, he’s always so positive, so upbeat. You can tell he wants to be out there so bad. We just thought collectively as a group here and as an organization that without a doubt this is the right thing to do and it’s a win-win situation for all parties.”
Veteran defensive end Akiem Hicks feels that the Bears signing Miller sends a positive message to the rest of the locker room.
“I am happy that I’m part of an organization that will take care of its players,” Hicks said. “That’s what it said to me that they’re willing to make sure that we’re all right and give us the opportunity to get better and just loyalty. That’s what I saw it as.”
Miller has remained positive throughout his ordeal, but he can’t help but imagine how he’d perform in a Nagy offense that appears to be perfectly suited for the talented tight end.
“That’s the bittersweet part of it, seeing first of all how awesome coach Nagy is, not only as a guy but his football knowledge is unbelievable,” Miller said. “He’s very cool, very collected, has a little bit of swagger to him, which is just fun to be around.
“Then you go to the football field and you look at the scheme that we have. It would be a lot of fun to be a part of. It’s not in the cards quite yet for me to take part in that, but as I sit and I watch and I see the weapons that we have and what we’ve added, the dynamic ability that we have as a collective group, [there’s a] positive future here and I’m excited to be a part of it.”