Wheaton Academy boys basketball coach Steve Thonn had a spring in his step earlier this month, and not just because of the Warriors' next game.
"That's my guy," Thonn said of Matt Nagy, the former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator who was named the 16th head coach in Chicago Bears franchise history, succeeding John Fox.
From 2004-07 Thonn was the offensive coordinator of the Georgia Force in the Arena Football League. Nagy, a quarterback out of Delaware, played quarterback for the Force in the 2005 and 2006 seasons, taking over for the injured Jim Kubiak in 2005 to lead Georgia to ArenaBowl XIX.
"He's the type of guy that brought a lot of enthusiasm at the quarterback position when he played," Thonn said of Nagy, who passed for 4 touchdowns and ran for another in that 51-48 ArenaBowl loss to the Colorado Crush, then owned by John Elway.
"He was always at practice every day, always upbeat," Thonn said. "He'd get all excited for the big plays. He was just very upbeat and he brought a lot of enthusiasm."
As Georgia's starting quarterback in 2006, Nagy completed 70 percent of his passes and threw for 85 touchdowns. He then played the next two seasons for the Columbus (Ohio) Destroyers, facing Thonn in 2007 with Georgia and in 2008 when Thonn was head coach of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Rampage.
After Nagy's Arena career, Thonn said he kept in touch with Nagy "a little bit" as Nagy first joined the Philadelphia Eagles as an intern under Andy Reid, then followed Reid to the Chiefs, where he spent the past five seasons.
"He gets pretty intense, at least when he played. I haven't seen him coaching," Thonn said. "He liked the game. He had fun and really loved playing the game. I had fun working with him, game-planning and everything. He always tried to add new plays and he was into it that way."
Viewing the Bears news conference introducing Nagy as head coach, Thonn said he was "himself" -- relaxed, easygoing.
"It's good to see an Arena guy make it in the NFL," Thonn said. "It was great to hear that he got the job."
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