Young Bears Standout Puts NFL on Notice: ‘I Will Get My Respect’

Darnell Mooney

Getty Bears receiver Darnell Mooney is ready to make the league put some respect on his name.

Darnell Mooney is ready for Year 3.

The 24-year-old Chicago Bears wide receiver is coming off a career year that saw him form a solid on-field connection with quarterback Justin Fields.

Mooney had career highs in targets (98), catches (81), and yardage (1,055), all of which also led the team. The 2020 fifth-round draft pick out of Tulane also added five total TDs (four receiving, one rushing).

While Mooney had a standout season in 2021, the Bears offense did not. The passing game in particular was among the worst in the league, averaging 188.6 yards per game through the air, which ranked 30th out of 32 teams. When speaking with the media after the team’s voluntary minicamp practice on April 21, the speedy wideout admitted the team needed to improve its aerial attack.

“I take it to heart. We need to be better,” Mooney said about Chicago’s poor statistical showing in the passing game last year, before sharing some strong thoughts about how he plans to earn the respect of the league.

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Mooney Hoping to Improve His Conditioning

Mooney revealed the aspect of his game he was looking to improve most this offseason was conditioning. “My thing is, I want to be able to play six quarters,” the young wideout said. “I want to be able to play faster than anybody else on the field, not get tired.”

He then cited reigning Offensive Player of the Year, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, as an example of a player he’d like to emulate in that regard.

“Cooper Kupp in the Super Bowl, like that last drive,” Mooney said. “He got the ball maybe six, seven times. That was his drive. In the end zone, he was dead tired, but you couldn’t see that he was tired at all catching the ball and going back to the huddle. But me being able to do that and be consistent with that and maybe the targets are going to (be) up even more this year, so I have to be able to take that on and just not be tired.”

Mooney has been putting in extra work this offseason catching passes from Fields, hoping to improve their connection. So far, he has been doing everything right — and he’s on a mission to make his name synonymous with greatness.

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Mooney: ‘I Will Get My Respect’

After wide receiver Allen Robinson inked a three-year deal with the Rams this offseason, it left a void in Chicago’s wide receiver’s room, and Mooney says he’s ready to work with one or more of the young wideouts entering the upcoming draft. “A lot of receivers in this class are extremely good, so one of those guys will come in and give us a spark for sure,” he said.

Regardless of who else the Bears bring in, Mooney is also ready to make a name for himself.

“I know what I want out of my life,” Mooney said. “I know what I want out of this league. Disrespected as a fifth-rounder. At the end of the day, I will get my respect. I’m going to keep going til I get my respect.”

“I’m looking forward to continuing to try to be great,” he added.

After setting the franchise record for most receptions by a rookie wide receiver in 2020 (61) and leading the team in receiving the following year, he’s off to a pretty solid start.

You can watch Mooney’s full interview below:

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