It all started with a drawing of Mitchell Trubisky.
Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times knew that Bears fans would be eager to get a look at the team’s new quarterback, second overall pick Trubisky. However, the Bears don’t allow media to take photos or videos during training camp, except for stretching and working through individual drills. So Finley got creative.
The team implemented the change in 2015. Finley said the drawings started at a walk-through that was closed to the public early in this year’s camp as a subtle commentary about the team’s media policy. It soon took on a life of its own.
“I thought it was silly and subversive — trying to prove a point about the media policy, but with humor,” Finley said. “People seemed to like it on Twitter, so I did it again the next practice.”
The Bears’ policy on photos should theoretically keep any formations or clues about specific plays from leaking out that might give other teams a competitive advantage. But — aside from the fact that photos of the team using tennis rackets to emulate tall defenders in practice isn’t terribly compromising — there’s one major problem with the team’s approach.
“Most training camp practices are open to the public; fans can take videos or pictures throughout practice, but we can’t,” Finley said. “Yes, this is an odd policy. We’ve argued against it, to no avail.”
And fans are grateful.
“Seven of my eight most-viewed tweets since the start of training camp have been the drawings,” Finley said. “Fans like them. I tweeted pictures and videos on Saturday, when access was wide open, and people wrote me disappointed that I didn’t do a drawing.”
Finley is creating these masterpieces with no formal training.
“My art training is limited to drawing Elmo, baseballs and footballs for my 2-year-old, who is maybe six months away from surpassing me in talent,” Finley said.
Finley’s artist’s renderings of the Bears’ big training camp plays
One of Finley’s early efforts was the freakishly athletic Tarik Cohen, who was just showing off during punt return drills. Finley didn’t want his followers to miss the spectacle.
Punt return drill: Tarik Cohen catches 3 balls without putting others down. Drops #4. We can't take pictures, so artist rendering: pic.twitter.com/3wufRDxEis— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) July 29, 2017
The Bears have incorporated some unorthodox methods in practice for the quarterbacks. But they would have gone undocumented thanks to the Bears’ policy about photos.
Finley knew Bears fans were counting on him, and he wouldn’t let them down.
Finley’s artistry brings the biggest training camp plays to life for Bears fans, and Trubisky has been a regular subject of his art.
Trubisky seems to be coming along quickly, and fans are fortunate that Finley is here to show them how the rookie is developing.
You may want to keep an eye on receiver Tanner Gentry in preseason action, too. The impressive undrafted rookie’s big plays have been featured in Finley’s drawings multiple times.
It’s unlikely that the Bears will change the media guidelines about photos anytime soon. But at least Finley found a fun way to follow the rules and still show fans what’s happening during practice.