Kyle Fuller is probably the most overlooked great defensive player in the NFL. That’s not any sort of bias from a Chicago Bears fan. It’s just the honest truth. He was an All-Pro in 2018, a Pro Bowler again in 2019, and might actually be having the best season of his career in 2020. Quarterbacks are completing barely 46% of their passes in his direction for a 59.2 passer rating.

All of that overshadows what has really caught peoples’ attention. Just how physical he is. In each of the past two games, Fuller has delivered a bone-crunching hit. Something people just don’t expect from cornerbacks in this day and age. The best part is both were clean as a whistle even though he ultimately got flagged for one.

Kyle Long isn’t surprised.

The former Bears guard played almost his entire career with Fuller in Chicago. He knows exactly what the corner can do. What has stood out to new teammates like Tashaun Gipson is how unemotional the guy is after big plays. He just gets up and walks back to the huddle or off the field. Long is well aware of that mentality.

He knows because he saw where it was born. Back in 2017, Fuller was at a career crossroads. He’d missed all of 2016 with a knee injury. The Bears chose not to pick up his 5th-year option. It looked like his career might be going down the drain. That offseason he was invited by defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to take up golfing.

According to Long, that decision was one of the key factors in Fuller’s remarkable turnaround. Think he’s a cold-blooded assassin on the football field? It started on the golf course.

Kyle Fuller is proof of how sports can be interconnected

This is a reminder to everybody that sports in generals are not mutually exclusive. It is remarkable how one can feed into another in such unexpected ways. Think about quarterbacks in the NFL. Is it a coincidence that a lot of the best ones actually have a baseball background like Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes? Or what about great tight ends who played basketball like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez?

It isn’t crazy to think golf could have benefits as well. It’s a highly cerebral sport that takes careful planning and preparation in order to attack every course. Every swing matters. Just a slight misadjustment could send a ball screaming into the woods, a sandtrap, or a water hazard. Fail to read a putt correctly and it’ll flow down a hill even further past the hole that it was before.

There’s a reason guys like Tiger Wood get paid millions playing it. It’s incredibly difficult. Fuller isn’t the only noteworthy player who mastered golf. Tony Romo was another. The mental challenges it brings can make football preparation look far less intimidating by comparison. Once the Bears cornerback came to that realization, the switch truly flipped.

He has become one of the great success stories in recent Bears history. A model of inspiration on how hard work can go a long way.