One-on-One with the Newest Bear

Lake Forest - General manager Jerry Angelo swung a trade with the Miami Dolphins for Brendon Ayanbadejo on Monday and in many ways it brings the veteran linebacker's career full-circle.

If you're wondering why Angelo was able to acquire a Pro Bowl alternate special teams player for a backup TE in John Owens and a conditional draft pick there is a simple answer.

"I didn't fit in the scheme," Ayanbadejo said of Nick Saban's defense. "They had me playing the same position that Willie McGinest or Mike Vrabel would play and those guys out weight me by 40-50 pounds and they're about four inches taller than me."

Keeping a roster spot for a player that only contributes on special teams is difficult, which meant Ayanbadejo saw the writing on the wall.

"If I was playing WILL linebacker the whole time I was there, the position that my body type was meant for, I wouldn't have expected anything. But since I was playing a position that I wasn't accustomed to and I'd get dominated out there regardless of if I wanted to or not. I kind of figured I don't have any role on defense so usually you've got to be more than just a special teams guy to play in the league anyway."

The addition of Ayanbadejo fills two needs because he's not only among the best kick cover men in the game, but he can also help at linebacker. The loss of Marcus Reese to a season ending dislocated shoulder left the depth at the position in question.

At 6-foot-1, 228 pounds Ayanbadejo's game is speed oriented, which is perfect for the defense in Chicago.

Ayanbadejo entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 1999, but was waived by the Atlanta Falcons before playing in a regular season game.

While he signed with the Bears during the 2000 off-season, sitting out an entire season proved to be a challenge he was not ready to overcome.

"To play at the highest caliber, to come back after a year off, and to be playing NFL ball I really wasn't ready and the coaches noticed that," Ayanbadejo said. "That's when I went to Canada and got back in shape and got my game right."

After playing for three teams in three seasons in the CFL, Ayanbadejo again got his shot at the big time. He led Miami in special teams tackles in each of the last two seasons while playing in 32 games.

"I feel like a journeyman, I've experienced a lot of things," Ayanbadejo said. "But ultimately I ended up back in the NFL so perseverance and a lot of hard work at times (got me through it). It's taken a turn for the better the last three years."

He played primarily on special teams in 2003, totaling 19 special teams tackles. In 2004, he started two of 16 games played and totaled 20 tackles, one interception and one pass break-up along with 23 special teams tackles, which earned him Pro Bowl alternate status.

For Ayanbadejo, coming back to Chicago represents a second chance. While his first stint with the Bears didn't go the way he planned, the 28-year-old grew up on the Northwest side of city and sees this as an opportunity to come home.

"Just growing up out here and living in the neighborhood I lived in and growing up in the projects, it was a rough life and now I'm back here under different circumstances," Ayanbadejo said. "Now I can be a person that can help people versus needing help growing up. Football and life have come full-circle."


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