Veteran left tackle Jason Peters was fishing in a creek in Texas a couple weeks ago when he received an important phone call.
On the other end of the line was Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo, who served in the same capacity during Peters' first two seasons with the Eagles in 2009-10. Castillo wanted to discuss a potential reunion in Chicago, something that appealed to Peters.
A nine-time Pro Bowler during 17 NFL seasons with the Bills (2004-08) and Eagles (2009-20), Peters signed with the Bears Aug. 16 in large part because of his familiarity with Castillo and coach Matt Nagy, who also worked on Andy Reid's staff with the Eagles from 2008-12.
"Coming in late like this in training camp, knowing Juan and knowing what he wants—techniques and stuff—is key," Peters said earlier this week. "This situation is good because I know all the coaches pretty much and the staff and stuff. They know me and they know what I can do. They're just kind of letting me get my legs and stuff up under me right now."
Peters won a Super Bowl with the Eagles to conclude the 2017 season and appears to be a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So, why did he decide to continue playing as he approaches his 40th birthday in January?
"I just love the game," Peters said. "When you stop loving the game, you're going to let it go. Right now, I still love doing it. It's fun to me going out on Sundays. My nephews and family watch me. It's just still fun to me. I like the camaraderie with the guys, the locker room. You don't get that nowhere else but here.
"I really don't have nothing to prove. I just want to win, get another ring, to be honest … The Pro Bowl, I got plenty of those, the All-Pros, all the accolades. The biggest one for me now is Super Bowl. I got one. I would like another one here with the Chicago Bears."
Last season with the Eagles, Peters was limited to eight games due to a toe injury that required surgery. Now healthy, he's determined to prove he can still perform at a high level, especially to doubters who question his age.
"I'd just tell them to come watch the game or practice and see if they can see I'm 39 out there," Peters said. "I feel good. I've still got my quicks, my strength. Like I said, it's getting my legs up under me because the [rest of the team] started in April. They got that big of a head start on me, so I'm just trying to get my legs where their legs are right now, so [I'm] doing extra stuff and conditioning stuff and weight room stuff right now."
“When you stop loving the game, then you let it go. Right now, I still love doing it.” New Bears LT Jason Peters, an 18-year NFL veteran
Peters practiced with the Bears for the first time on a limited basis last Thursday, but he sat out Saturday's preseason game against the Bills. He's currently participating in his first full week of practice and is expected to play early in Saturday's preseason finale versus the Titans in Tennessee.
Peters' new Bears teammates have welcomed him with open arms, eager to learn from the highly-respected veteran.
"That experience is invaluable," said right tackle Germain Ifedi. "It's not even just all about football stuff; just life stuff, too. Relationships, things like that, financial stuff, he talks about anything because he's been in it so long, seen everything. [There's] nothing really that you can come to him with that he has not experienced. So [I'm] just being a sponge. I'm sure it gets annoying—guys come up to him all the time—but those types of guys, they just love sharing and putting their arms around the younger guys and really telling them the way because you don't know what you don't know."
Rookie tackle Larry Borom, a fifth-round pick from Missouri, was five years old when Peters entered the NFL.
"I just want to learn as much as I can from him," Borom said. "I value everything, every little thing that he says to me. I just want to pick his brain. He has seen it all. I just want to know what it takes to be that great."