Mitchell Trubisky had a chance to chat with Peyton Manning last week in Denver, but it wasn't the first time the Bears quarterback spoke to the future Hall of Famer.
When Trubisky was a junior at North Carolina in 2016, he reached out to Manning for advice about whether to enter the NFL Draft with one year of college eligibility remaining.
"I could tell he was dealing with a lot of things that I was dealing with as a junior," Manning said last Thursday while watching a joint practice between the Bears and Broncos in Englewood, Colo. "I was really impressed. He said, 'Mr. Manning, I have about eight questions for you. I need about 20 minutes of your time.' He was very organized.
"I did the same thing when I was a junior. I had a list of people to call, had some questions. I called Troy Aikman, who stayed [in college], called Drew Bledsoe, who left. So I could relate to what Mitch was going through. I think in a lot of ways he kind of wanted to stay, but he had an opportunity to be a high pick and he made a great choice."
While Manning stayed for his senior year at Tennessee, Trubisky entered the draft and was selected by the Bears with the second overall pick—after they had traded up one spot in a deal with the San Francisco 49ers. As a junior, he passed for 3,748 yards with 30 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
Trubisky appreciates the advice he received from Manning and is grateful that the star quarterback was so willing to help a young pro prospect. Manning is the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns in both a season and a career. In 18 years with the Colts and Broncos, he won two Super Bowls and was voted to 14 Pro Bowls.
"It was just awesome to talk to someone with his experience and his knowledge," Trubisky said. "One of the best pieces of advice he gave me when it comes to making decisions was when he said, 'Gain as much information as you can with your brain, but make a decision with your heart and your gut.' I've really carried that over into a lot of things I've thought about, just getting a lot of information about what you're going to do and be smart about it, but it's got to feel right in your heart and your gut when you're making a big decision in life."
Trubisky recalls meticulously preparing for his phone call with Manning.
"I wrote my questions down before I was going to ask him," said the Bears quarterback. "I didn't want to waste his time. I wanted to be productive when I was talking to him. I didn't want there to be any dull moments or awkward silences. You can get intimidated talking to one of your childhood idols that you looked up to. We kind of have a relationship now and he says reach out whenever."
Manning was impressed with how prepared Trubisky was for their initial phone call.
"It said a lot," Manning said. "He said, 'I know you're busy; if I can get 20 minutes of your time …' You could tell he was going down his list [of questions]. That really jumped out to me and I think that kind of discipline and eagerness to learn will help him be a better player."
The two reconnected last season when Manning attended a Bears practice at Halas Hall.
"Coach [John] Fox invited me to stop by, and I had a good chance to visit with [Trubisky]," Manning said. "I sat in a quarterback meeting with him, talked to him, and once again he had a bunch of questions, wrote everything down, had his notepad out. Being a football junkie, I appreciate those kinds of things."
Manning watched from a distance last season as Trubisky started the final 12 games of his rookie year, passing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
"Playing as a rookie, as much as it can be tough and frustrating—I went 3-13 as a rookie and still hold the NFL rookie record for interceptions—but I know that I was a better player going forward because of that year whereas on the sidelines it's hard to learn," Manning said. "So I think he will benefit from that. Getting in a new system and getting comfortable with that will be a transition, but I know he'll put in the work.
"Having a new system is always a new challenge. But having the head coach call the plays and Matt [Nagy] and the system he'll bring I think can be really beneficial for Mitch. I pull for quarterbacks. In the NFL, we need good young quarterbacks and I'm pulling for him."
Bears photographer Jacob Funk selected his best photos from the Bears third preseason game of 2018 against the Broncos.