Sports

Bearing down with ... Kelvin Hayden

With his team leading 22-17 in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLI, Indianapolis cornerback Kelvin Hayden returned an interception 56 yards for a game-sealing touchdown against the Bears. The play was particularly sweet for Hayden, a Chicago native who played at Hubbard High School and the University of Illinois.

Now on the Bears (he signed as a free agent in April), Hayden spoke with RedEye about winning a championship against his hometown team and the prospect of taking home another.

Kelvin Hayden: I go back to the AFC championship game—the Bears had the early game, we had the late game—and the game was on in the locker room while we were preparing. I was so caught up in watching their game just because, you know, being a kid from Chicago and how big the Bears are, it was just a matter of trying to stay focused and letting them handle their business. But to see them win it made it even more intense for me to want to win the AFC championship game. Then for it to actually happen—it was big.

My mom, she's a Bears fan. My whole family are Bears fans, and she was saying, oh, she would like to see the Bears do well, but she wants me to win. Stuff like that. And my family's like, they want the Bears to win and just want to see me do well. [Smiles.] And then to have a big play in the game against the hometown team, it gave me the bragging rights. That's all I wanted. It was good to see the Bears there, if I wasn't there. It was a big moment for me personally, something I'll never forget.

So what did your family say when you came home? You'd not only beaten the Bears, but YOU had beaten the Bears. That was it. That was the backbreaker.

Yeah, they were proud of me. [Laughs.] They said, you know, "Good to see that you are out there making plays, but it didn't have to be a play that put the game away." But everybody, we're just all out fun and games, love, and it's cool.

Let's flash forward six years. How are you feeling being here now?

I feel good. I feel good. This is another dream opportunity. I grew up wanting to play for the Bears. It's big for me, it's big for my family. We just want to enjoy the ride.

Do you have a Super Bowl on your mind?

Yes, of course! Every year everyone has the dream of playing in the Super Bowl, but here [pauses, looks around locker room] it's more a reality thing. It can be done. Some people just talk about it. We're talking about it, but we also believe. The coaches tell us every day that you're out there working to become Super Bowl champions. Anytime you think you don't want to do it, or physically you feel like you can't do it, just think of putting in that work toward one goal, and that's to win a Super Bowl.

All right, so it's February 2013, you guys have just won the Super Bowl. Where do you celebrate in Chicago?

I don't know. [Pauses.] I'm going to celebrate with my family. I'm kind of living the dream for them. Wherever they want to go is fine with me. It would be good for us to celebrate Chicago winning the Super Bowl together. Just a unity thing that we like to do. As a kid, everybody watched the Bears game at someone's house. It'd be fun for that to be reality.

Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. Say hey @readjack.

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