Bears rookie tight end Adam Shaheen was engaged in light-hearted banter about his affinity for Chipotle during his first news conference Saturday at Halas Hall.
“I have a go-to order,” said Shaheen, the Bears’ second-round draft pick. “I get a burrito, and then I get extra, extra white rice. And then double chicken. You’ve got to tell them one scoop of chicken because they’ll try to mix it in and you won’t get as much. Then just a little bit of corn. That’s it.”
No sour cream? “Nope.”
Burrito or bowl? “Burrito.”
Then Shaheen was thrown his first curveball — actually a high hard one. How did he explain to NFL teams during the draft process two politically charged tweets he made in 2012-13? One expressed disdain for President Barack Obama, the other called his pick-up basketball team “Team Romney Ryan,” with the hashtag #whitegreatness.
It was an off-the-field “Welcome to the NFL” moment for the 6-6, 278-pound Shaheen, who was virtually anonymous as a star player at Division II Ashland (Ohio) University, where a normal media gathering was four or five people. Now, everything is a big deal.
And he never flinched.
“Nobody asked about it, and I know exactly what you’re talking about,” Shaheen said. “I was a dumb teenager. My opinion I thought would make a difference. The other one was a pick-up basketball game between me and my buddies, just making fun of ourselves more than anything else.
“If I had the maturity I do now, I would have recognized that there could be some potential problems and would have understood the [impact] of things and wouldn’t have obviously put it out there for everyone to go through on draft night.”
The four- and five-year-old tweets are nothing to get in a snit about, but for Shaheen, the episode was a quick lesson of how any little thing can become a big one at his level, including his love for Chipotle or anything he tweets or says.
Shaheen’s life has changed that quickly. He wasn’t an NFL prospect in 2012 or 2013. In fact, he wasn’t even playing football. In April, he became the 45th overall pick in the NFL draft, drawing comparisons to Patriots star Rob Gronkowski.
The minicamp this weekend is his first exposure to the NFL. It isn’t nearly what he’ll face in training camp or the regular season, but it’s a start.
“It really didn’t hit me until Thursday when we reported,” Shaheen said. “Walking in the building, it was like, ‘This is real.’
“I’m nervous, obviously. It’s to be expected. I’m just really excited to be here and make the best of my opportunity.”
Shaheen’s hotel roommate is quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The team is trying to develop chemistry between the two potential playmakers as quickly as possible.
“I had a great relationship with my quarterback [Travis Tarnow-ski] at Ashland,” Shaheen said. “So I think it’s huge having that off-field relationship. I think it builds a trust on the field. There were times in college when he trusted me to throw it up when he shouldn’t have and I came down with it. It was awesome.”
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.