- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- During his search to find a new head coach to lead the Chicago Bears, general manager Phil Emery almost immediately connected with new hire Marc Trestman because he felt a sense of kinship and respect for the road the coach had taken throughout his career.
Before taking over as GM of the Bears, Emery himself navigated a long road that ranged from places such as Wayne State, Western New Mexico and Saginaw Valley State to the U.S. Naval Academy, Chicago, the Atlanta Falcons and back to Chicago. So after speaking to Trestman during the first phase of the interview process, Emery saw a little of himself in the coach, and admitted Wednesday to gravitating toward that.
"I was trying to convey it when I talked about what are the things for Phil Emery that drove me to Marc to say, 'That's the guy,' " Emery said. "He's taken a wide road, range, or ride a big map to come to where he's at today. I feel a kinship in that I once took a 42-hour bus ride to go on a job interview that paid $6,000, and got the job and was glad to have it. As our GM Rich McKay used to tell me with the Falcons, 'You've been to every dirt hole there is.' We've had similar journeys."
The disappointment Trestman experienced during his quest to become a head coach in the NFL led to him take two brief hiatuses from the game. Fired from North Carolina State in 2006 with two years remaining on his contract, Trestman explained that he felt he "had two years to figure out the rest" of his life.
That led to critical self-evaluation for Trestman and eventually he wrote the book "Perseverance: Life Lessons on Leadership and Teamwork." In the aftermath of the firing from North Carolina State, while examining his life and career, Trestman explained Wednesday he came to realize he often looked at other people and factors outside of his control as roadblocks to his quest to become an NFL head coach.
The epiphany came once Trestman learned to look further inward and worry solely about what he could control. The transformation came just before Trestman took the job in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes.
On a personal level, Emery could relate.
"I know how hard it is to advance, and sometimes feel like you're not making any progress. So what do you have to have? You have to have mental toughness, and you have to have a little luck," Emery said. "I feel really lucky. I think Marc's had a similar journey. I think his biggest luck (came) when he got a chance to be a head coach (in the CFL), coach a team, a professional team, and show people that he could lead men. I've got great respect for that."