Danny Trevathan thought long and hard about his fiance and two daughters as the 2020 season approached. His fiance suffers from asthma, which could lead to a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
“My fiance, that’s like my backbone,” Trevathan said. “When corona happened, she has chronic asthma and allergies [that are] crazy. I really thought about her, all the sacrifices she made."
Last month, when the NFL and the NFL Players Association were working out the details of a return to football, Trevathan was vocal on Twitter about wanting a solid plan in place.
“As protectors of our family we want them to be safe as well as ourselves,” Trevathan tweeted. “Who don’t want to see great games. Well let’s have a great PLAN.”
The plan the NFL came up with must’ve met Trevathan’s standards because he's in camp at Halas Hall preparing for his ninth NFL season.
The veteran linebacker returns after missing the final seven games of 2019 due to a gruesome elbow injury suffered against Detroit on Nov. 11. The Bears re-signed the 30-year-old to a three-year contract in March.
In doing so, the organization brings back one of its vocal leaders and one of its most experienced players. Trevathan is the type of veteran who shows up at the facility early, which has become a hassle now that he has to take a coronavirus test when he arrives.
“Shoot, I don’t like getting stuff in my nose,” Trevathan said.
But if that's what it takes to return to the field, Trevathan will do it. He spoke with Bears defensive tackle Eddie Goldman over the offseason, as Goldman was contemplating whether to play in 2020. Goldman opted out days before training camp.
Trevathan was supportive of Goldman, even though he himself came to a different decision.
“Eddie’s a hard worker, he never complains,” Trevathan said. “He’s one of those guys who puts his head down and goes to work.”
When Danny Trevathan talks, everyone in the room listens. And Trevathan has opinions.
Last week in an interview with TMZ, legendary Bears coach Mike Ditka voiced his displeasure with athletes who kneel during the national anthem.
"If you can't respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country," Ditka told TMZ.
Trevathan called out "some of you old heads" on Twitter days later, writing that they were showing their "true colors."
In a Zoom call with the media Friday, Trevathan declined to call out any of the “old heads” by name.
“That’s stuff that I take serious,” Trevathan said. “The people that I’m around take serious. Closed mouths don’t get fed. Those people, I’m pretty sure they feel strongly on how they feel, and I feel strongly on how I feel. The world is changing, man, the world is changing.”
His willingness to speak up could prove useful during a season when everyone has to be held accountable, more than ever. Matt Nagy said earlier this week that anyone working at Halas Hall has the right to call out any employee for not wearing a mask.
“One slip up and it spreads like wildfire, as far as I’ve seen,” Trevathan said. “You’ve just got to hone in and think about the bigger picture.”
In the MLB, the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins have already missed games due to virus outbreaks. The NFL, with even more players and staff, is as susceptible.
Bears inside linebackers coach Mark DeLeone said Trevathan is a huge vocal asset to the locker room.
“At a time right now where there's so many different things happening in and outside this building, to have a guy like Danny … to have that calming effect, presence about him, I think is huge for our defense and for our team,” DeLeone said.
The image of Trevathan’s elbow bent backwards under Lions quarterback Jeff Driskel has a scarring effect. Trevathan is trying to put it behind him. He has bigger plans than that small footnote to his career.
Trevathan’s not a young linebacker anymore. He's won a Super Bowl, he’s made millions of dollars. He’s been thinking about his legacy, and the Bears' legacy at linebacker.
“It means a lot to Danny to finish his career as a Chicago Bear," DeLeone said. "And bring a Super Bowl to this city, and win for this city, and go down as one of the great Bear linebackers at a place that – I’ve said before – there's no place in the NFL that has linebacker tradition like the Chicago Bears. And I think that really means something to Danny to go down in history as one of the great Bears linebackers.”
The injury was a setback. Trevathan felt he was playing one of his best stretches before the injury. He believes he can do it again in 2020.
“I understand football so well, I know how to play the game mentally and beat you mentally, as well as physically,” Trevathan said. “I feel like I was definitely going to turn it up a couple notches last year.
“How do I get back to that? I never lost it, in my mind.”