CHICAGO – Snapchat keeps Justin Fields and his father connected.
“I’m probably the oldest guy in America on it, but it is a way to communicate with my kids. If I text them, they’ll take a long time to get back with me. But, if I use the Snapchat app, they snap you right back.”
Fields’ dad Pablo uses new technology to stay in touch with his kids, but he was old school when it came to raising the future Bears quarterback. The now retired Atlanta area police officer and former college football player ran a strict household to keep his son out of trouble and in line to succeed where he failed in the classroom.
“I had D-1 talent, but I had to go to Eastern Kentucky because I didn’t have the grades. I finished the SAT in about 5 minutes because I just put ‘C’s’ all the way down. So, I was really, really tough on him.
“I kept my foot on his neck as far as grades. I looked at them every single day, three times a day. He graduated from Harrison High School with a 3.9 GPA.”
Every Bears fan has seen firsthand how special Justin is. He already has a handful of runs no Bears quarterback has come close to making in his first two years on the job. That athleticism was apparent at a very young age.
“When he was like one, he would keep throwing a ball up the steps. The ball would bounce down the steps and he would catch it. You’re trying to watch the game or a movie and it’s getting on your nerves, ‘Hey man, cut that out.’ But you have no idea it’s hand-eye coordination at one. You don’t know. He had a little nerf hoop and a basketball. He could shoot on it and dunk on it. But, I thought all little boys was like that until I coached tee ball when he was four or five years old.
“My son could throw and catch. I could throw. He’d throw it back. I’d catch it. So, I put a glove on another little boy. I throw him the ball and it just hits him dead in the forehead. His mother comes out the bleachers. Curses me out. I thought all little boys could throw and catch.”
Just like growing up, Pablo goes to nearly all of Justin’s games. He uses his son’s two seats, sitting behind the Bears bench with his eyes glued to QB1.
“I’m a nervous wreck. I can look at my watch and my heart rate’s 120-125.
“Most people, when they watch the game, he throws the ball and they’re looking for the receiver. I’m looking at the hit after the throw to see if he gets up.”
Almost all of what Pablo hears in the crowd is positive. He has had to bite his tongue when it comes to the online criticism, though.
“The worst thing I can ever do is comment. I wrote some dissertations just to reply to something on Twitter and then I had to erase the whole thing. But, I’ve never replied to anything.
Only once has Pablo confronted a heckler in person. It happened to be during Justin’s first start, when he was sacked nine times by the Cleveland Browns.
“A guy was like, ‘Hey! I knew Fields wasn’t ready,’ or something like that. I was like, ‘Man, he ain’t got no blocking. They’re there before the ball. Who could play quarterback in that situation?'”
Fields actions have spoken louder than his words. His determination to follow through on his promise to finish college is one of Pablo’s proudest moments as a parent.
But another that comes to mind is from when Justin was still high school.
“I was fortunate enough to work at his school as the campus officer. My daughter went there as well. There was this kid, who was kind of a knucklehead. He was asking my daughter out. I had access to the camera system, so this kid had a sign ‘Will you go to homecoming with me?’ He had some flowers and he was in the hallway. He was asking my daughter, who is only 18 months younger than Justin, to go out on homecoming. All the kids had stopped for this kid to ask my daughter out. Justin was coming from another class. He didn’t even know. He was coming from somewhere else. He’s like, ‘What’s going on?’ He tiptoed over the crowd and he saw this football friend of his asking his little sister out to homecoming. Justin tore the sign up and put the flowers in the garbage can. Because I was telling them to stay away from that knucklehead. That was the proudest moment. I got to see it over and over again because I have access to the camera system.”
Bears fans would love to see Fields throwing touchdown passes to DJ Moore and the rest of his receivers over and over again this season, as Justin enters year three in the NFL.
“Barring any injuries, I’m looking for big things out of the Bears and him.”