Even before seeing the Hall of Fame plaques of Bears greats Bill George, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher in the Halas Hall lobby, Tremaine Edmunds already knew all about the franchise's storied history at linebacker.
During his introductory press conference Thursday, Edmunds cited that lineage as a key factor in his decision to sign a four-year contract with the Bears.
"It's just the great tradition," Edmunds said. "I mean, why wouldn't you want to come to a place like this? They've had a lot of great guys come through here. I'm a big believer that you've got to pay respect to those guys who came before because that's who we're striving to be like; not exactly imitate their game but take a little bit from everybody and put it into your own game.
"The Chicago Bears are known for their linebackers, and I want to be able to write my story and be that next great linebacker here."
Edmunds certainly appears primed to do so. Selected by the Bills with the 18th pick in the first round of the 2018 draft out of Virginia Tech, he was voted to two Pro Bowls and recorded at least 100 tackles in all five of his seasons in Buffalo. The 6-5, 250-pounder started all 74 games he played with the Bills, compiling 565 tackles, 32 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks, five interceptions and two forced fumbles. As Edmunds switches teams, he's concentrating on making the same type of impact in Chicago.
"Buffalo has been my home for the last five years," Edmunds said. "I can't thank them enough for just giving me my first opportunity just to display my talents in the NFL. [But if] you look too far back, you're going to trip going forward. I'm focused on what's in front of me and leading this football team to get to the level that the city and we want to be at as a team."
Despite having already played five NFL seasons, Edmunds won't turn 25 years old until May 2. He became the second youngest prospect selected in the draft at 19 and the youngest player in NFL history to record an interception at 20.
Although Edmunds is a seasoned pro, he's still just beginning to enter his prime.
"I feel pretty young," he said. "I feel like I'm just getting started, to be honest. And I'm excited because I'm learning so much and I'm meeting new guys and my game is developing so much. I'm just looking forward to what's in store and definitely getting around the guys. I'm ready to go to work, for sure."
“The Chicago Bears are known for their linebackers, and I want to be able to write my story and be that next great linebacker here.” Tremaine Edmunds
Get an exclusive look inside the Bears' practice facility as new Bears DJ Moore, Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Edwards, DeMarcus Walker, Nate Davis, Travis Homer and P.J. Walker tour the building, meet their new teammates and more during their first days in Chicago.
Former Bears cornerback Leslie Frazier, a member of the famed 1985 Super Bowl XX champions, served as Bills defensive coordinator the past five seasons. He told ChicagoBears.com that Edmunds is a "special player" and "tremendous leader." Frazier added that Edmunds' teammates gravitated toward him, something that was evident when he was a voted a team captain at age 21.
"I take big pride in that, man, because that's something your teammates vote on," Edmunds said. "That's something the people around you that you go to war with every day vote on … I take that to a high regard just because that's something that's not just handed to you. You've got to work for it. You've got to earn that.
"That's what I plan to do [with the Bears]. I don't want anything given to me. I've been working all my life. That's me."
Though supremely talented, the aspect of Edmunds' game he takes the most pride in is his non-stop motor.
"We talk about talent. All of the guys are talented in the league," Edmunds said. "But when you talk about effort, you talk about relentlessness and you talk about guys that just care, guys that finish plays, guys that give it their all, when you turn the film on you can tell that from guys.
"It's more than just talent, because in this league talent is only going to get you to a certain point. You've got to figure out what's going to set yourself apart, and I'm going to give it my all each and every time I step foot on that field. That's how I was raised. That's my identity, and that's who I am as a player."