Michael Ford at the NFL combine. (Associated Press)
Chicago Bears backup Michael Ford prepped at Leesville High before playing at LSU. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Thursday, September 12, 2013 8:10 PM
During his time in Baton Rouge, Michael Ford was considered different things at different times.
He was the future, the starter and even the forgotten man.
His three years as a member of the LSU football team saw the tailback help his club to the No. 1 ranking, a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game and even a big play in the Tigers’ win over Alabama in 2011.
But there were also some tough times.
He sat a lot more than he would have liked, and rumors of academic problems made his future even more cloudy, though he was never forced to miss a game.
Through it all Ford, who grew up in Leesville, always believed in himself. Self-doubt was never an issue.
So when all those naysayers told him to stay in school last year, Ford didn’t see any reason to listen.
Instead, he gambled on what he believed was a sure thing. He doubled-down on Michael Ford.
“I always believed in myself and my abilities,” Ford said. “I knew what kind of player I was and what I could do to help a team. I just had to go out and show it.”
More questions surrounded him after he went undrafted last April.
“I wasn’t worried, but I was disappointed,” Ford said of not getting drafted.
But instead of pouting, the surprise snub gave him added motivation.
“It took me to a whole different place,” he said. “I had to start over from ground zero.”
That meant fielding calls from a host of NFL teams. Instead of auditioning, Ford began a selection process. It didn’t take him long to choose his spot.
Ford signed a free-agent contract with the Chicago Bears with only one promise: he would be given a chance to win the No. 3 running back job.
“That’s all I ever wanted was a chance,” Ford said. “The Bears were an easy choice because they were talking to me all through the draft. They seemed interested all along.”
That left his future in his own hands, which is right what he hoped would happen.
Ford won the job by working his tail off on special teams and as a running back. He surprised all with his speed, ability to catch the football out of the backfield and his talents on the kick return team.
During the four preseason games, Ford was tied with starting running back Matt Forté in rushing yards with 149 on 39 carries. He also had two touchdowns, one behind Michael Bush in that category.
He also showed he could catch the ball, finishing tied with Alshon Jeffery with eight catches. Ford had 65 yards on those grabs.
Where he really turned some heads was on special teams. Ford had a team-high 11 returns for 368 yards, including a 100-yarder.
“You have to like what you see in Michael Ford,” Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis told ESPNChicago. “He has done everything we asked of him.”
Now, he is on the team, though he is still waiting to make his pro debut on the field.
“I think a lot of people are shocked I made it,” Ford said. “I slid under the radar and I like that.
“This is not the end, though. I still have to get my first play in, my first catch and carry, my first touchdown. I’m looking forward to that.”
As for his time at LSU, Ford said he wouldn’t have done it any other way.
“That was a great program to be a part of,” he said. “It is all about winning, playing in big games and for national championships.
“The thing about LSU is there is such great talent there and the best man plays. Jeremy Hill had a great year last year, it is his time.”
Ford finished his three years with the Tigers with 1,416 yards and 13 touchdowns on 243 carries. He made eight catches for another 69 yards.
After that, he felt it was time to go. He hasn’t looked back since.
“None. It was my decision,” he said. “I have do deal with the consequences and nobody else. I either made it or I didn’t.
“I think everything happens for a reason. Not getting drafted, leaving school early, signing with the Bears — it all worked out. Look at me now.”
Ford can tell the world he did it his way and he was right all along. But he knows each day brings more tests and more questions.
“I still have a lot of things to prove,” Ford said.
He also has already proved a lot as well.
Posted By: Marcus Kahn On: 9/14/2013
Title: From My View
As a lifetime Bears fan and having a personal enjoyment of spotting the "real deal" among all the underdogs, I immediately noticed and watched this young man excel in the preseason. I can say that I saw real talent and was very impressed by his drive and grit. In my opinion - he has upper level NFL skills. My guess is that when he gets his opportunities, he will shine. After reading the article, and once he can show Chicago what he can do, maybe they will start calling him "Rocky"!
Posted By: Carl On: 9/13/2013
You're the best writer alive jimbo!