The Bears don't seem to want to change him, either. "We've got nobody better in meetings, and nobody practices harder," says Chicago coach Dave Wannstedt. "All people used to talk about around here was how emotionless our defense was. Then we get Bryan, and everybody says, 'Now here's a real Chicago Bear, with all the toughness.' And now they're on him. Is this guy any different from [former Bears linebacking great Dick] Butkus? It's just that when Butkus walked off the field and did something wild, there weren't 30 reporters and minicams recording it."
Maybe it's losing.
Cox never lost a game in high school. As a pro he is 52-41, including a 27-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the final minute on Sunday. He doesn't seem to be taking it well. "Sportsmanship?" says Cox, who a least kept his fists and his helmet to himself in Week 2. "When you are getting paid, there is no sportsmanship. It's not a game anymore. Shake your hand? Get the f—- out. Let's go play again, right now. F—- sportsmanship. I got a family to feed."
Cox is so hypercompetitive that he won't even let his three-year-old son, Bryan Jr., and five-year-old daughter, Brittani, win race against him. "They'll say, 'Race you to the top of the stairs, Daddy,' and I'll push 'em down just so I can beat 'em," Bryan says. "They'll be crying, saying I cheated. But I'm giving them the competitive edge."
Or maybe it's just the violence itself. Cox worships violence. In the basement of his house, he has built a shrine to it—a home theater with a 100-inch screen and two smaller TVs on each side of it—where the day before a game he will watch the goriest movies he can get his Visa on. "To see somebody get stabbed or shot, it kind of gets you excited," Cox once said. If that isn't enough, he puts on the most violent rap music he can find, usually something by Scarface. Soon, Cox is ready to eat bees.
Maybe it's the games themselves.
He hates Soldier Field. Hates the crummy locker room. Hates the cold showers. Hates the painted dirt he plays on. Sometimes, he even hates the sport. It's not unusual for Cox to tell a mother, "Don't let your son play football. Don't do it. It hurts the body really bad. Believe me." In his first NFL preseason game with the Dolphins, Cox knocked helmets with Bears defensive lineman William (the Refrigerator) Perry on a special teams play, suffered a neck injury and was paralyzed for an entire day. It's a desperate feeling to cry and not be able to wipe away the tears.
Then, after a game's over, he detests the people who report about it. "I hate it that some little scrawny 120-pound woman or some 160-pound guy can sway the public opinion with stuff that might not be true," he says. "They see a touchdown, they see Bryan Cox near the guy, and so they write, 'Bryan Cox gave up a touchdown.' When they have no idea of the scheme we're in or how it works. It might have had nothing to do with me. I've seen plenty of guys lose their jobs over that kind of s—-. You know, I have a degree in communications. I can do any of their jobs, but can they put on a jockey strap and play football?"
Or maybe it's just him, a man who has vowed to keep the sabbath gory.