Defensive end Chauncey Davis got the call from his agent last Friday informing him he was joining the Chicago Bears. Davis, who played for the Atlanta Falcons the past six seasons, admits to having mixed emotions at the time.
"It was hard being cut from Atlanta," the 6-2, 271-pounder said. "I'd been there for such a long time. My family was there, my roots had grown there in the time I was with the team."
Yet life in the NFL allows little time for nostalgia and by Friday night both Davis and his fiancee were packing for a flight north. Although he'd played in Chicago before as a visitor, he said he had no idea of what to pack for a full-time gig in the soon-to-be-frozen Windy City.
"Before, I was just in and out in a matter of a day or two," Davis said. "[This time] I brought what I could fit in a couple of suitcases. I can always head over to the mall and get the heavier stuff once I've settled in here."
Settling in will have to be a speedy process, as Davis needs to learn Chicago's system by Sunday afternoon when the Bears take on the Chargers at Soldier Field.
"It's easy in some respects, but difficult in others," Davis said. "Surprisingly enough, learning to communicate on the field with new teammates is not that difficult. We're all football players so we all speak the same language to a certain extent. And the vets here have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable and ease my transition.
"The harder part is learning the specific terminology for the Bears schemes. Plus, I need to get caught up on game film on the Chargers. I did take the time, though, to watch Bears film from their game last weekend. What an effort. It's an honor to be part of a group like that."
From here on, Davis that feels that he has a lot to prove.
"It hurt being cut by my old team. How could it not? I had given the Falcons everything for a number of years. The most frustrating part was that it came down to money. It wasn't that I wasn't playing well enough to stay with them, but it was the fact that they felt I'd become too expensive.
"Now every time I am on the field, I'll be aiming to show I was worth it, if not to Atlanta, then definitely to Chicago. I appreciate the opportunity to play here and I plan to do everything in my power to show that the Bears' front-office decision to pick me up was the right one."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.