Behind The Scenes

Drehs Seeks Out The Wisdom of (Larry) Wisdom to Nail Nagy Story

"It’s just that Matt’s story is more unique than most. And I think people can really relate to someone who is truly passionate about their dream.”

Larry Wisdom (seated) gave Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy life-changing advice. (Photo courtesy of Larry Wisdom)

This week on ESPN.com, senior writer Wayne Drehs tells the story of how Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy ended up in the NFL despite his attempts to leave football behind him.

Drehs says there is one man he knew he had to speak to for the story and that man wasn’t Nagy.

“Larry Wisdom, no question,” Drehs said.

Wisdom was once Nagy’s boss at a home construction company. But as Drehs reveals in the story, he was, and still is, much more than that.

“I wasn’t able to get any 1-on-1 time with Matt for the piece so my only interactions with him came during his Christmas Eve press conference,” Drehs said. “Matt knew we were working on the piece. He was super supportive. With so many demands he just didn’t have the time.”

Under Nagy’s leadership, the Bears have had their most successful season in years. They clinched the NFC North and host the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the playoffs on Sunday.

“Larry was the one who really shared the details and helped paint the picture of what that time was like,” Drehs said. “We spent nearly four hours on the phone on a Saturday afternoon talking about Matt.”

When asked if anything surprised him while working on the story, Drehs responded that it’s funny how fate works.

“Here’s this football coach who the city of Chicago absolutely adores and so many things needed to happen to put him in this place at this time,” Drehs said. “Every coach and athlete has their tale of how they got to the pinnacle of their sport. This isn’t unusual. It’s just that Matt’s story is more unique than most. And I think people can really relate to someone who is truly passionate about their dream.”

Drehs says although the story is not about the X’s and O’s of football, he did learn a lot about how Nagy operates.

“It was interesting in talking with Larry to learn the degree to which nearly everything Matt does is choreographed with the greater good of the team in mind,” Drehs said. “Larry is a successful executive who prides himself on leadership skills and he said he is fascinated how Matt knows what to say and how to say it to get the most out of everyone, from players and coaches to even someone like a secretary or receptionist. I find that absolutely fascinating.”

– Molly Mita

Kevin Negandhi hosts the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter live from Santa Clara, Calif., on Friday ahead of Monday’s College Football Championship, Keith Olbermann will co-host from the studio in Bristol.

Boston Celtics host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

The Houston Texans host the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Wildcard game on Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Alabama and Clemson face off on Monday Night in the College Football National Championship in Santa Clara at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Multiple ESPN networks will air simulcasts during the game.

– Molly Mita

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