Bears coach Matt Nagy had a big surprise for his players when they arrived at Halas Hall Monday to begin the sixth week of the team's offseason program.
Deviating from their regular routine of weightlifting, conditioning and position drills, the players were told that they'd be participating in a "Monday Funday" that included an obstacle course, dodgeball tournament and pizza lunch, all on the practice field.
"It's always fun when you go in a team meeting," said guard Kyle Long, "and you're about to get ready for your lift and coach says, 'We're scrapping it. We're doing something different today.' The mood immediately goes up. We're lucky to have coach Nagy and to be able to do stuff like this. He's got his finger on the pulse of the team. He does a great job."
Players and coaches were divided into 10 11-man teams. Each squad selected one individual to perform one of 10 challenges as part of an obstacle course.
The events consisted of 1) Hitting the crossbar with a thrown football from 15 yards away; 2) Putting a golf ball into a bucket; 3) Doing 50 pushups; 4) Running four sprints across the width of the field (coaches only); 5) Throwing a ball through the goalposts from 55 yards out; 6) Juggling two tennis balls for 10 seconds; 7) Shooting volleyballs into garbage cans; 8) Balancing a baseball bat in an open palm while walking the width of the field; 9) Eating six crackers (with no water); and 10) Knocking a cone off a pad with a football from 15 yards away.
The four teams to complete the obstacle course in the shortest amount of time qualified for the dodgeball tournament. Points were also awarded to the teams with the longest pass by a non-quarterback and the longest punt by a non-punter.
The team that ultimately won the competition was comprised of players Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Leonard Floyd, Chuck Harris, Ted Larsen, Bilal Nichols, Pat O'Donnell, Ellis Richardson and Allen Robinson II; and coaches Mark Helfrich, Donovan Raiola and Deshea Townsend.
The team clinched first place by winning the dodgeball tournament when O'Donnell eliminated Taylor Gabriel with a low laser beam.
"No better feeling," O'Donnell said. "Let me paint the picture: I heard Allen (Robinson) whispering in my ear, 'Go for his legs.' I took the captain's advice and went for his legs."
The top four teams earned the chance to select a special prize. The first-place squad picked a fancy steak dinner at training camp, the second-place finishers chose one fewer rep at a pre-camp conditioning test, the third-place team selected a curfew extension for one night at camp, and the fourth-place squad picked free haircuts from a professional stylist.
After enjoying their Monday Funday, Bears players will return to Halas Hall Tuesday for the first of 10 Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices with fresh legs and refreshed minds.
"We're just building that team camaraderie," O'Donnell said. "All the guys have been grinding in the weight room. Coach Nagy has been saying that since we walked through the door; put in the work and he'll reward us, so that's what he did today."
Players and coaches played games and enjoyed pizza during a very special Monday practice.