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The Chicago Bears kicked off the 2024 NFL Draft with the No. 1 pick

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The Chicago Bears kicked off the 2024 NFL draft last night with a No. 1 pick. They chose USC star quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams. Long suffering Bears fans are overjoyed they may finally have a star quarterback to lead them into a winning future. Reporter Rob Salinas has reaction from Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED CHICAGO BEARS FAN: Caleb, let's go. Caleb Williams.

ROB SALINAS, BYLINE: Bears fans gathered at Soldier Field for a draft party to celebrate what was probably the worst kept secret in the NFL. Bears fans have known for months Caleb Williams was coming to Chicago. They were so confident they started snatching up his college jersey. Longtime Bears fan Travis Armstrong (ph) was among thousands who gathered on the field and in the stands.

How long have you had a USC jersey?

TRAVIS ARMSTRONG: I rolled the dice a month ago. I felt confident with what people were saying and decided just to pull the trigger and get the jersey.

SALINAS: Ashley Gordon (ph), a season ticket holder, waited anxiously for the pick.

To what certainty? If you were in Vegas, is this an all-in situation?

ASHLEY GORDON: Yeah, and I love Vegas. And, like, I would be all in, $1 billion. It's Caleb Williams.

ARMSTRONG: Moments later, the Bears and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made it official.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROGER GOODELL: With the first pick in the 2024 NFL draft, the Chicago Bears select Caleb Williams.

(CHEERING)

JARED COYLE: This is a time you'll never forget where you were as a Bears fan. This will be a moment to remember.

SALINAS: Jared Coyle (ph) was overjoyed the Bears might finally get the franchise quarterback Chicago has sought for decades.

COYLE: I think he's a guy who has a lot of talent. He has a lot of moxie that you haven't seen in Chicago. And when you look at the other top guys around the league, they have that spunk to them, that edge. That's what's going to be awesome about him.

SALINAS: Some fans voice reservations. Marcia Gordon (ph) says former Bears quarterback Justin Fields was doing a good enough job. However, she says the city will rally behind Williams.

MARCIA GORDON: We are fans, and if you actually win, we're going to jump with you. So as long as he can bring some winning to this team, which we haven't had much of, he'll be all right.

SALINAS: As for Williams, he's also known for months that the Windy City would likely be his new home. James Sweeney (ph) says he has evidence.

JAMES SWEENEY: He liked my tweet back in December about playing for the Bears when I tweeted that I've waited my whole life for a quarterback like him.

SALINAS: And the city has waited almost 40 years since their last Super Bowl championship.

For NPR News, I'm Rob Salinas in Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF HERB ALPERT AND THE TIJUANA BRASS' "TIJUANA TAXI") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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