Jake Elliott is basically as Chicago as you can get.
He went to high school 16.3 miles away from Soldier Field. He dreamed of playing shortstop for the Chicago Cubs. His favorite food is deep-dish pizza.
And on Sunday, for the first time in his career, he will return home to face the team he cheered for growing up in the same stadium where he attended his first NFL game (a preseason game but that still counts) as a young kid.
And, of course, everything will be on the line.
“It’s exciting. It’s exciting to go back home,” said Elliott at his locker after practice on Thursday. “Obviously, I’ll have a lot of family there at the game. I haven’t played a game back there since high school, so it’ll be cool to go back, but other than that, it’s just another game.”
Elliott was able to snag tickets for 21 family members, friends, and former coaches to watch him play. It was difficult to select from many supporters. He said he’s excited to get to talk with those who helped him reach the NFL and continue to watch him each week.
He plans to meet up with his friends and family after the game, hopefully, to celebrate. Until then, his focus is solely on the game. Like him, everyone coming to Soldier Field were Bears fans before. But Elliott swears there’s no Chicago fandom left in them.
“It’s all Philly now,” Elliott said. “It’s cool getting to go home and play in front of a bunch of family and friends. So, in that aspect of it, it’s special. But just try to keep it as even-keeled as possible.”