Fantasy has become reality for veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden, a Chicago native who signed with the Bears in April after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Colts and Falcons.
“It’s a dream come true,” Hayden said Wednesday at training camp. “Growing up as a kid, everybody dreams of playing for the hometown team. I’m fortunate enough for it to be reality. I’m going to try to make the best of it and enjoy every bit of it.”
As a kid, Hayden donned a Bears uniform his family purchased from Toys “R” Us that included a helmet, shoulder pads and Walter Payton jersey. When Hayden takes the field Thursday for the first training camp practice, his relatives will be cheering him on from the bleachers.
“I told them to keep it down,” Hayden said with a laugh. “Every day they wait for training camp. They’re saying that they’re going to be out here every day; things like that. They’re enjoying it as much as I am.”
Hayden, who opens training camp as a reserve behind starter Tim Jennings, will provide quality depth in the secondary. He hopes to help the Bears return to the Super Bowl for the first time since he played a key role in defeating them in Super Bowl XLI in Miami.
Hayden generated a pivotal play for the Colts in that game, intercepting a Rex Grossman pass and returning it 56 yards for a touchdown to give Indianapolis a 29-17 lead.
“When I first stepped in the building, guys were giving me a little bit of heat, but I think it was all out of fun,” Hayden said. “I try to put that behind me because this team has all the right tools to be that team.
“This team gives me the feel of the Indy team that won the Super Bowl. We were loaded then. It’s just a [matter] of guys staying healthy and guys going out there and doing their job.”
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