Khalil Mack tries to stay out of the spotlight during an outstanding 2018 season with the Bears
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — One could make a strong argument that he’s one of the greatest trade acquisitions in the history of the franchise.
The stats don’t lie, and neither has the success of his team since he arrived.
Khalil Mack’s acquisition from the Raiders a week before the season has aided in a quick transformation of the Bears. In the course of 14 games, they went from the bottom of the NFC North to the top, clinching the division with two weeks still to go in the season.
Yet you don’t hear the linebacker speaking out too much about his achievements. His quiet demeanor during interviews represents his personality when he steps outside the lines. Mack isn’t boastful about his achievements, nor does he crave the spotlight.
Yes, that’s intentional.
“It’s just being me,” said Mack of his attitude. “I don’t get too high, I don’t get too low. Don’t get caught up people saying you’re good, people saying this and that. Good or bad, it can kinda weigh on you or make you think that you’re better than what you are. My job is to go out and play better every week.”
That’s remarkable in many ways, considering the success that Mack’s had since coming into the league in 2014. He’s been a Pro Bowler four times, twice been named an All-Pro, and won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Award with the Raiders in 2016.
Mack is already in the Pro Bowl in 2018, and figures to be a candidate for the other honors before the end of the year. His 12 1/2 sacks, six forced fumbles, and consistent pressure on the quarterback took a Bears’ defense that was in the Top 10 last year and put them into the Top 3 consistently over the season.
Yet through his time in Oakland and this year in Chicago, there is no embracing the honors or attention for Mack. He credits veterans he played with early in his career with the Raiders – Charles Woodson, Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith – for giving him the right perspective on how to deal with success and failure.
“You’ve just got to ride the wave of the season and ride the wave of life,” said Mack of the advice he got from veteran players in Oakland. “You can’t take much as it goes on – can’t get too high, can’t get too low.”
Now that he’s one of the leaders on this playoff-bound Bears team, does Mack try to give that same advice to his younger teammates?
“I try to instill those values on my ‘young pups,'” said Mack. “Just understanding the situation and understand football.”
He’s a pretty good example of that strategy working.