You Can’t Blame Justin Fields for Unfollowing the Chicago Bears on Instagram

Social media may not be "real life," but it sure can distort it

Justin Fields bundles up at Soldier Field in Chicago. Here's why the quarterback unfollowed the Bears on Instagram.
Justin Fields says he loves Da Bears, no matter what you think.
Michael Reaves/Getty

In what passes as news, sports fans will often read that a player unfollowed their team on social media, and “journalists” will frame the maneuver as some kind of rejection of or diss toward the franchise. (It’s always an added bonus when, somehow, it’s revealed that the athlete in question also — gasp! — put their house of up for sale. They must be going to another team!) Instead of conducting real reportage, these writers print pure speculation.

Justin Fields, quarterback of the Chicago Bears, is the latest athlete to experience this phenomenon. NBC Sports Chicago was among the many outlets to report that Fields was not following his team on Instagram, which could indicate he was about to be traded ahead of the NFL Draft, where the Bears hold a high draft pick they could use on a replacement QB. To the outlet’s credit, they wrote that it was unclear as to whether or not Fields had ever followed the Bears on the platform. Still, that didn’t stop them from covering the frenzied social media discourse surrounding the potential snub.

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Athletes — who at last check are human beings — don’t get to totally “control the narrative” about their lives in the press, which NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo pointed out to InsideHook a couple weeks ago. In lieu of building a media company and producing a Prime Video documentary about himself, as Antetokounmpo did, Fields instead went on a podcast to discuss the situation. A source tells me there’s much less overhead going down that route. (As a journalist, I have to tell you that was a joke.)

In an interview on the St. Brown Bros Podcast posted yesterday, Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and his brother, Equanimeous, another wide receiver and Fields’s teammate in Chicago, asked Fields if he wanted to remain a member of the Bears. “Yeah, of course,” Fields responded comfortably. “I can’t see myself playing in another place, [and] if it was up to me, I would want to stay in Chicago. I love the city; the city is lit. The fans there, they’re great.”

He acknowledged that football is “a business,” and that he can’t control what happens off the field. He’s employed by the Bears and the franchise is free to trade him.

So why on earth wouldn’t he follow the Bears on Instagram? What could possibly be the reason for such drastic action? (As a journalist I have to tell you those last couple sentences were written sarcastically.)

“Why do people take social media so serious?” Fields said. “I still mess with the Bears, this and that, I’m just trying to take a little break. I unfollowed the Bears and the NFL. I’m just not trying to have football on my timeline.”

He said that with “everything going on” — i.e., the possible trade scenario — his social media feed had been inundated with posts remarking either that the Bears should continue on with Fields fronting the offense or trade him and draft Caleb Williams out of USC.

“I’m tired of hearing the talk,” Fields added. “I just want it to be over.”

He can’t be blamed for that and, if anything, Bears fans should acknowledge that Fields is trying to preserve his relationship with the team by unfollowing their IG account. Maybe a more enterprising journalist would’ve gotten that answer directly from Fields, instead of pushing a story that his time in Chicago appeared to be coming to an end with the touch of an unfollow button.

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