Since his selection in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Bears, Matt Forte has played in all of the team's 33 regular-season games, leading the club in rushing in both 2008 and 2009.
It's easy to see why after his performance against the Carolina Panthers a week ago. On that Sunday, Forte began the scoring with an 18-yard run on the Bears' first possession, then followed up with a career-long 68-yard scamper for a touchdown. He finished the game with a career-best 22 carries for 166 yards. For this accomplishment, he was named the NFL's FedEx Ground Player of the Week; his other honors include being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after the first game of the season against Detroit and the Brian Piccolo Award (along with Charles Tillman) as the team's rookie who "best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor." Piccolo, a teammate and friend of Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, was a Bear running back who died from embryonal cell carcinoma on June 16, 1970, aged only 26. The movie "Brian's Song", starring Billy Dee Williams and James Caan, is a must-see for any Bears fan.
Forte has other impressive statistical accomplishments, too. He's the first player in Bears history and only the fourth in league history (since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger) to have a 150-yard rushing game and a 150-yard receiving game in the same season, and the first since the Rams' Marshall Faulk in 1999. Forte scored his sixth touchdown of the 2010 season against the Seahawks; he's currently tied for third in the NFL, and is the only player in the league to have multiple touchdowns both rushing and receiving. While Forte was not used as often in Sunday's loss to Seattle, he will continue to be a force on the Bears for teams to watch. His contract runs through 2011.
Forte was born December 10, 1985, in Lake Charles, Louisiana. His father, Gene, played at Tulane from 1975-1977, serving as its captain in 1977. Forte followed in his father's footsteps, playing for Tulane from 2004-2007 while his brother, Bryan, played football at McNeese State.
A promising high school football player who also lettered in track, Forte became an honor roll student in college and was named Tulane's Male Student-Athlete of the Year in 2006. The four-year letterman played in 43 games, 30 as a starter. Forte graduated as Tulane's leader in rushing yards per game (99.186), rushing touchdowns (39) and total touchdowns (44), ranking second in all-purpose yards (5,261), rushing yards (4,265), rushing attempts (833) and 100-yard rushing games (16). He is third in total point (266) and fourth in yards per carry (5.12). All of this made him a Sports Illustrated Second-Team All-American in 2007.
Perhaps Forte is channeling frustration and anger into his performance on the field. In May, it was announced that he was engaged to Danielle Daniels, but Daniels recently called off the engagement after learning that Forte's ex-girlfriend in Louisiana was pregnant with Forte's child, due sometime in November. Daniels is a Chicago-based publicist who attends Columbia College. The news of the split seems to have been overshadowed by local media coverage of the romps around town of quarterback Jay Cutler and his latest love interest, actress Kristin Cavallari. Perhaps this took pressure off of Forte, allowing him to concentrate on his on-field performance. The Bears' passing game didn't seem to work very well this past Sunday -- they ran the ball only 14 times for 61 yards against the Seahawks -- so perhaps next week against the Redskins, Mike Martz's offense will return to Matt Forte and the rushing game he led so well against the Panthers.