It's been a rough stretch for the football team at Tilden High School, located in Chicago's South Side. With just 16 players on their team, they haven't won a game in a couple of years.
It's hard to keep your head up for each game when you face that kind of adversity.
However, that's what Matt Forte was there to encourage them to do last week as part of the Duracell "Trust Your Power" program. Along with some positive words and encouragement, Forte brought along a large donation of money and equipment for an often underfunded school.
"Just because they haven't won in a couple years or don't have a lot of guys on the team (doesn't mean) that they can't be successful in life outside of football," he told me last week. "We're here to let them know to work hard and give them some inspiration when sometimes they don't get a lot of support."
Forte might know what that's like, given his tumultuous offseason and his struggle to get what he felt was an equitable contract.
For Forte, he stayed focus during the offseason the same way he always does.
"Train hard, running hills, lifting weights and trying not to worry about the contract situation. I knew eventually it would get worked out, and that's what happened."
Staying positive helped him in the offseason and was also his message to the football team he met with, but it was also the way the Bears kept moving forward during a rumor-filled early part of the season.
"We didn't focus on the distractions out there, what the media says about Jay and constantly scrutinizing him. We just kind of kept to ourselves and know that it's about us. We can't worry about what else is going on. We look at who we're facing each week, what we're doing and who we're playing."
Aside from that, Forte says it's about riding the rollercoaster of a season.
"We can't get too high when we get wins and don't get too low when we get a loss," he told me. "We have to stay focused on the ultimate goal, which is being Super Bowl champs."
Forte cited the defense as a reason why, early on, the offense has had the luxury of finding its feet.
"It's a big advantage, having a defense like this. When our defense is playing well—which they always do—we're able to stay patient and stick to our game plan."
For Forte, though, last week was all about the kids.
"It's not just about football skills," Forte told me, "It's about life skills. It's not just about football, but they can achieve whatever they want to in life."
That's something they can watch Forte live out on the football field on Sunday afternoons.
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