Rozner: Jordan Lynch as football-immersed as ever
Jordan Lynch is still, at heart, a football player.
So when he talks about his past, his present or his future, he strains to discuss himself when there are others he can praise.
He also moves on quickly. It's an essential football trait, and now the head football coach at Mount Carmel, Lynch doesn't spend any time thinking about how a break or two might have led him to the Heisman Trophy, or how the Bears lied to him to get him into camp as a publicity stunt.
The 28-year-old has no need to look back when he's always got a game in front of him, this week 3-0 Mount Carmel facing 2-1 Loyola as a pair of the best Illinois high school teams square off.
And he looks very much at home on the sideline in his second year, after one season as an assistant coach at NIU, following two years of playing football in Canada.
"I love football. It's not the only thing I know how to do, but it's pretty close," Lynch said with a laugh after a recent Mount Carmel victory. "I love this. Look, coaching college football was a dream. I never thought I'd leave.
"But when an opportunity like this opens up at a special place like this … I'm an alum. My brother's in the school. I missed a lot of valuable time with him being away in Canada for two years.
"I had just gotten married. I just had a kid. My hours are better in the offseason than it would be in college, so quality of life is part of it.
"It was kind of a no-brainer."
It's just hard to believe Lynch isn't playing football after being the best player in NIU history, leading the Huskies to an Orange Bowl and finishing third in the Heisman.
With 40 first-place votes, it was the top finish ever by a MAC player and the best showing in the BCS era by a player from a nonautomatic qualifying conference.
Lynch had several opportunities around the NFL in 2014, but the Bears with Phil Emery and Marc Trestman pushed him hard to sign in Chicago.
Turned out to be a publicity stunt.
The Bears asked him to lose 20 pounds and become a running back, but gave him only 7 carries in the fourth quarter of the first preseason game.
He played special teams in Game 2 and was one of a handful of healthy players to sit out the third game, which the Bears trailed 31-0 at the half.
Trestman promised that in the final exhibition, "You'll see quite a bit of (Lynch). He'll get an opportunity (and) it will be a good opportunity to show what he can do."
Lynch got 6 carries in the fourth quarter and was promptly cut, never even considered for the practice squad.
"I don't regret anything," Lynch said, looking off into the night sky. "The way I look at it, I was given an opportunity.
"The Bears wanted me. Sure, it wasn't at quarterback, but I was given an opportunity to play football. If you had told me at 8 years old, I get to play for the Chicago Bears and practice with them, I would have said, 'Heck, yeah.'
"So why change my mind now?
"I was happy. I was grateful. At the end of the day, it's not that I got treated unfairly or this or that. The way I look at it is I could have done something better to make the team.
"I don't want to blame coaches and do all that. I put it all on myself."
After missing a year of football due to that travesty, Lynch went to Edmonton in 2015 and in his first year scored the winning touchdown in the CFL championship game.
"It gave me a chance to play football. They called me and really wanted me and begged me to play there," Lynch said. "It always feels good to be wanted. So I got that good feeling back and got that itch back.
"Ended up winning a Grey Cup. A great experience and got to live out my dream for two more years."
Now Lynch is coaching his brother Justin, who in the win over Montini Friday reminded some of his big brother, breaking tackles and keeping plays alive with his legs. In just his third start, the junior quarterback carried 20 times for 112 yards and threw for 155 yards on 14 of 21 passing.
"I always had a dream of playing in the NFL, and playing there a long time. I still think I could play in the NFL," said Jordan Lynch, whose team went 11-2 last year and reached the state semis. "But now I get a chance to impact the game of football in another way.
"Football taught me so much. I need the game of football way more than it needs me. I have to be involved in it as much as possible and I would do it if it was the St. Christina Cardinals in eighth grade.
"I get a chance to coach and have an impact on kids. I get to be around the greatest kids in the world at the greatest program with the greatest coaches.
"What more can you ask for?"
If you close your eyes, you can still see Lynch running for 321 yards in a record-setting performance against Western Michigan on a frozen field in DeKalb.
You remember the broken tackles, the sacks he saved while shedding defensive linemen weighing 100 pounds more than him.
The heroics of the best player in the history of NIU, and maybe the Mid-American Conference.
Just don't ask him to relive it. The man has moved on.