Bears OLB Khalil Mack remains mum in public as Chargers loom
In a week where his teammates called him a vocal leader, Bears star Khalil Mack hit the three-week mark without granting interviews.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara was listing the Bears’ defensive leaders this week when he said something most people didn’t know about their best player, outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
“We have guys who know when to be vocal — like Mack,” he said.
Say what? Mack is notoriously tight-lipped in public. He’s done a single one-on-one interview — for “Monday Night Football” — since he joined the Bears almost 14 months ago.
“One thing I will say about Mack as a leader is that he’s not just a rah-rah guy and doesn’t waste his words,” Amukamara said. “So his words mean a lot when he speaks and he does it by action all the time so when he speaks, guys’ ears are open and guys are more attentive. And he’s been vocal lately, which is rightfully so.”
That doesn’t apply to public statements, apparently. Despite the Bears’ plans for their star to speak to the media for the first time in exactly three weeks Friday, Mack chose not to. He hasn’t granted an interview in the locker room after either of the Bears’ last two games — both losses. The last time he spoke to the media, he was on a rugby practice field in London.
Inside linebacker Roquan Smith hasn’t spoken since two days before Mack last did, when he said he planned to play after missing the Vikings game for a personal reason neither he nor the team has explained in detail.
Per the NFL media policy, players are required to speak at least once during the week and also after games.
Before the Bears’ locker room opened Friday, head coach Matt Nagy was asked, generally, about the value of all his players giving interviews.
“We’ve all talked that, ‘Hey, we all need to understand when things are going really well you’re able to talk about it, and when things aren’t going really well you’re able to talk about it,’” he said. “That’s only fair to everybody ... I don’t think any of it is intentional and none of it is to create a division between any type of media or outsiders with us. …
“They’re able to answer questions however they want to and you guys are able to ask questions however you want to. It’s the nature of the beast. And we have to do our job in making sure they understand it and we understand it.”
Through his first our games, Mack totaled 4 ½ sacks and four forced fumbles. He has none of either over the past two games — losses to the Saints and his former team, the Raiders. The Bears need more production from him Sunday against the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, who might get rid of the football quicker than almost any quarterback in the league.
“Not only does [Mack] make plays on the field, off the field, he’s a leader,” inside linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “He speaks to those guys and guys listen up. So when he speaks, guys are listening and chiming in. What he says, he sees the game from a different perspective. Being that high, he doesn’t look at himself like that. He looks at himself like a guy that comes in and works. And it carries over to the whole team.”
Unlike Amukamara, Nagy said Mack hasn’t appeared more vocal this week.
“And I don’t expect that,” he said. “One of the biggest things is forget the schematic part. But when you’re going through daily routines of what you do you’re always looking for answers in how you fix things.
“But I think there’s a really fine line in chasing the cat’s tail and trying to just change things up on how you do things just because. I’m just real skeptical of that.”