Summer 2024

Bears RB David Montgomery as he enters contract year: 'Without God, I can do nothing'

Many NFL players talk about the added pressures that come with performing during a “contract year” when their futures in the league may be at stake. One would think that pressure could only intensify following a slight dip in production in 2021 and a baby on the way in January.

But for Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery in the final year of his rookie contract — even with all those additional pressures — he says he’s only worried about pleasing God.

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“I really [haven’t] thought too much about that,” Montgomery told the media last week when asked about proving himself in 2022. “Honestly, like I said, I don’t look to give any validation to anyone but God.

“I live my life. I’m on a spiritual journey right now for myself, and being sure that I just always focus, and keeping the main thing the main thing. That really is God, so I’m going to go out every day with the opportunity to be the best I can be. When it’s all said and done, God will take me and put me where I need to be.”

Montgomery, 25, out of Iowa State, was Chicago’s highest pick in the 2019 draft (No. 73 overall). Once with the Bears, he quickly established himself as one of the better workhorse backs in the league. He’s rushed for at least 800 yards and six touchdowns in each of his first three NFL seasons, and in 2020, he eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau and was tied for the fifth-most rushing yards in the entire league (1,070).

A month-long stint on injured reserve defined much of Montgomery’s 2021 campaign, although he still managed to rush for 846 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games. Despite Montgomery’s best efforts, the Bears failed to finish above .500 for the third straight season and head coach Matt Nagy was replaced by Matt Eberflus in January.

During last week’s press conference, Montgomery said he hasn’t lived up to his own unreasonably high expectations in the NFL, as he relied solely on himself to try to do it all. The lack of team and personal success, he said, took a toll on his mental health, admitting that at times he’s dealt with depression throughout his Bears tenure.

Yet sparked by the news that he will soon become a father, Montgomery said he’s purposely pursued a deeper relationship with God recently, and God has answered in a powerful way.

“When you go through life and you have your journeys and you have your trials and you have your ups and your downs, when you don’t have anything to grasp onto or believe in, it becomes a lot harder and it creates unnecessary pressures. Up to this point in my life right now, that’s all I’ve done.

“… When you got God and you’re really relying on Him, the pressures that you thought you had? They just disappear, because you’re not doing it by yourself. And there’s nothing that I go out there and do [by] the willpower of myself. I understand that with God, I can do everything. But without God, I can do nothing.”

He continued later: “It’s on the up and up now. I’m grateful and I’m blessed that God brought me here.”

Now free to play football and not be beholden to the expectations of others, even from himself, Montgomery said he’s enjoying training camp this year as one of Chicago’s veterans. He even used the Biblical metaphor of iron sharpening iron as the team learns new schemes.

Montgomery and the rest of the Bears will begin their preseason Saturday at home against Kansas City, and they’ll start the regular season at home against San Francisco on Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. ET.

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