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Bears coach Matt Nagy is still here, but he knows firing rumors won’t go away

Nagy acknowledged Friday that dealing with rumors is part of his new reality.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions
Matt Nagy stands on the sideline during the fourth quarter Thursday.
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Rumors about coach Matt Nagy’s job status aren’t going to go away because he beat the Lions by two points. They figure to hover over Halas Hall for the rest of the season, clearing only if the Bears go on a miraculous winning streak or Nagy gets fired while there are still games to play. The latter remains far more likely than the former.

Nagy, to his credit, acknowledged Friday that dealing with rumors is part of his new reality.

‘‘Is this going to stop?’’ he said. ‘‘No, it’s probably going to continue. There’s still going to be rumors that happen. But as long as we understand as players and coaches and everyone in this building what’s real and what the truth is, then we’re OK.’’

Nagy pointed to the Bears’ 16-14 victory Thursday against the Lions — their first triumph since Oct. 10 — as evidence that his team can handle distractions. That might be the only complimentary thing one could say about defeating a winless team at the gun.

‘‘There’s a right way to handle [distractions],’’ Nagy said. ‘‘The wrong way is you let it affect you. We didn’t do that and we haven’t and we won’t. Also, you stay ahead of it by knowing, like I just said — not just us, but other players — there’s going to be more distractions. That’s just natural.’’

The spark that threatened to set Halas Hall on fire Tuesday was a one-source story from a Patch.com reporter who doesn’t cover sports. It said Nagy had been told Monday he would be fired Friday, whether he beat the Lions or not.

When ‘‘Black Friday’’ began and Nagy still was employed, the Patch.com reporter wrote: ‘‘Did I get bamboozled when a trusted source, in the position to know, told me Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy was told he would not be on the sidelines after Thanksgiving? Or did something change at Halas Hall after I reported what the high-level source told me? I don’t know.’’

On Tuesday, Nagy said he wasn’t told he would be fired. On Wednesday, chairman George McCaskey told Bears players it wasn’t true. On Thursday, general manager Ryan Pace told the team’s pregame show it wasn’t true.

It’s unlikely Nagy would have been pre-fired and then un-fired, but the Bears’ reluctance to have Nagy’s bosses shoot down the report quickly Tuesday set the stage for a bizarre 72 hours.

Nagy laid out what he said was the truth Friday. Unprompted, he shot down recent reports of dysfunction on the team. He claimed a Shaw Media report that McCaskey forced Nagy to keep Justin Fields as his starting quarterback ‘‘couldn’t be further from the truth.’’

Refuting a Tribune report that players found Nagy canceling late-afternoon meetings Tuesday to be bewildering, given that the coach had talked with his superiors earlier that day, Nagy blamed a scheduling error. The Bears’ schedule mistakenly said there was a meeting, Nagy said, and he told his players there wasn’t. He called it ‘‘almost comical’’ to believe the schedule change was ‘‘because I’m getting fired.’’

But confusion and doubt among some players Tuesday and later in the week was real. And preventable.

‘‘A lot in your head after going right from Sunday to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, then playing Thursday,’’ tight end Cole Kmet said after the victory against the Lions. ‘‘There’s a lot in your head. You don’t know what’s true and what’s not. That was difficult for me. You don’t know what’s going on.’’

Kmet, a native of Arlington Heights, said he had to turn off his phone because his friends wanted to ask him about the rumors.

‘‘It was pretty chaotic,’’ he said.

The Bears never have fired a head coach during the season. For the first time, however, they have motivation: A new NFL rule allows teams to interview assistant coaches for head-coaching jobs in the last two weeks of the season. The value of that disappears, however, if the Bears also decide to replace general manager Ryan Pace.

If upcoming games against the first-place Cardinals and Packers go as expected, perhaps McCaskey would consider firing Nagy after the rivalry game, given the Bears would have eight days to prepare for a Monday game against the Vikings. The next two opportunities to make a move would fall four days before Christmas or two days after it, a tough sell for a franchise rooted in family. After that, the Bears will have only two games to go, with the window to talk to assistants already open.

Nagy can take a deep breath this weekend, however. He’s still here — with questions about his future standing beside him.

‘‘The personal side of it for me was, yeah, it was a different 24 to 48 hours,’’ he said. ‘‘But the emotional side for me was in that locker room celebrating with the team because they showed me how much they cared. And told me. And it was just pretty neat.’’