CHICAGO – Seven-year-old Kyler Gordon stood in front of the television in the living room of her family’s Mukilteo, Washington, home. A collection of Michael Jackson’s music videos was in the DVD player, and Gordon was intent on perfecting all of “Bad”‘s moves.
This was the dance he would take to competitions in the Seattle area and around the various states. Spending hours making sure those shoulder shrugs were sharp and on beat and imitating the signature kick was key for Gordon to transform himself on stage.
“I was just getting into Michael Jackson mode,” said Gordon, a rookie cornerback for the Chicago Bears, with a laugh recently.
The routine captivated the judges and is one of Gordon’s favorites.
Fifteen years later, Gordon stood in front of San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel. While the moves he was about to perform weren’t scripted, Gordon was convinced. The hip movement, balance and flexibility Gordon began to develop and perfect through competitive dance helped bring him to the stage.
It was Gordon’s NFL debut, and he played every defensive snap, making six singles tackles, including one for a loss, while helping the Bears upset the 49ers 19-10. Gordon made some solid plays, but he also experienced learnable moments.
“I certainly had made a mistake, a correctable mistake that I could have easily corrected,” said Gordon, his eyes not in the right place on the 44-yard reception he allowed John Jennings to do. “I know what it is, so I don’t really have to worry about going out there and fixing it.”
He’ll need to be at the top of his game on Sunday night when the Bears travel to Green Bay to face Aaron Rodgers (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC), coming after losing to the Minnesota Vikings. and will be motivated to avoid it. 0-2 NFC starting in the north.
“He’s going to be thrown into the fire, and he’s doing a really good job so far,” Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson said. “They still have some things to learn, to go through.
“You get burned in the fire, but he’s definitely doing well. He’s on the right track, for sure.”
Iwamari Gordon’s First The notion that her son was special came about during a visit to Kyler’s grandparents when he was 1 year old. Kyler was attempting somersaults and cartwheels. The energy in their movement was different, and eventually inspired Iwameri to involve Kyler and her younger sister, Kiyonameri, in the dance.
A former gymnastics coach, Iwamery encourages her children to work on their flexibility while watching cartoons at home. She would tell them that it was a short-term sacrifice that would yield long-term benefits not only for becoming a better dancer, but also in building work ethic, discipline and most importantly, self-confidence.
Eventually, the siblings would meet dance instructor Augga Hawkins, with whom they developed a close relationship. She choreographed the group number for Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud” using Gordon’s high energy and charisma.
“When he listens to music, his body automatically sways,” Hawkins said. “Teaching music is hard. Ballet techniques, we can shape them, we can shape muscles, we can make their bends stronger. But dance movement, maturity—that’s the gift you’re born with.” He swayed; he could feel the music. He had that gift.”
Gordon’s technical skills weren’t just shaped in the studio, where he spent 20 hours per week after school. Iwameri used to insist her children continue to practice at home.
“Whenever he picked up [a new sport]He can move his body,” Iwameri said. “I just don’t think, I know the dance made a huge difference.”
Gordon had four to six numbers drawn up for each competition, mastering the styles of jazz, lyrical, ballet and hip-hop, for group numbers and solo performances, all while performing complex routines for memory. She won several awards, and former dance teachers believed she had the potential to dance professionally.
Iwamery said, “I lived through my kids quirky because I’ve always wanted to do those kinds of things, but never had the confidence.” “I wanted these kids to grow up and have confidence.
“I didn’t have to. … My goal was to make sure these kids really loved who they were and felt confident in everything they did.”
Nothing taught Gordon more about discipline than ballet. Hawkins laughs when he remembers that Gordon didn’t want to wear his ballet shoes because he felt it made his feet “ugly.” Gordon, a self-proclaimed “goofy dude,” listened to harsh instructions from his teachers and immediately straightened his posture and pointed his toes.
“People don’t recognize how hard it is,” he said. “I think ballet is harder than other sports. It’s very strict and disciplined.”
Eventually, the need of the hour became too much. Gordon enrolled in kung fu lessons at age 5, was in competitive dance from 6 to 12, and danced with the troupe of the Seattle Storm from 10 to 15. She took up football at the age of 10 and also played basketball and lacrosse.
“People don’t recognize how hard it is. I think ballet is harder than other sports. It’s very strict and disciplined.”
Gordon’s passion for football quickly blossomed, but the flurry of performing in front of thousands at halftime of the Storm games was undeniable. While competitive dance taught him to master the technique in a world of precision and composition, the hip-hop routines he performed with Storm’s dance troupe allowed him to improve his sharpness and swagger with the occasional flip or round-off cartwheel. Tapping allowed.
“He could jump really, really high,” said Rosa Ekman, who captained the Storm’s dance team when Gordon was a member. “It got a crowd going every time. They loved it.”
But after a few years, Gordon’s passion for football won out. He will star at the University of Washington, where he earned all Pac 12 first-team honors last season, 39 overall, before being the Bears’ first draft pick in April.
first year bear General Manager Ryan Poles pulled off the collar of his dress shirt while calling Gordon from the Bears’ draft room on April 30. The moment was emotional for the Poles, who choked on being called their first draft pick.
“We’re here trying to make something special,” Poles told Gordon, “and we think you can help us make it happen.”
The Bears finished last season 6-11 and fired coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace. Poles and coach Matt Eberfluss were hired to rebuild a team that has not won a playoff game since the 2010 season. Former first-round pick Justin Fields is the offensive anchor at the quarterback, and is expected to be a cornerstone on Gordon’s defense.
The Bears had one of the NFL’s worst secondarys in 2021. According to Next Gen Stats, a cornerback was the closest defender on 27 of Chicago’s 31 passing touchdowns, the highest rate in the league.
Gordon was drawn to help fix it. Initially expected to be a gradual process of working the outside corner, it was quickly scrapped when Gordon grabbed the notoriously difficult nickel role.
“Some drama he makes, it’s not even his man,” said safety Eddie Jackson, a former first-team All-Pro. “He’s coming out to his man, pretending to be at the ball. So just seeing how comfortable he is, he’s smart.”
Watching some of Gordon’s moves on the football field makes it impossible to ignore the connection to his dance background.
“Yeah, hips, change of direction, balance and body control,” Poles said. “If you’ve ever seen someone with poor balance and body control, you trip over things, you don’t stay focused, you can’t stop and start a dime.
“There’s a clip they showed on TV, it’s in the coverage, it’s a back-shoulder [fade pass], He actually opens, turns, legs stick, they don’t move, two legs are down, grabs it and there’s an intercept. So some of those things are not normal, and they probably developed it from that background.”
Gordon’s days of competitive dancing are over, but his effortless movements are worth noting. His feet naturally find their way to various ballet positions when he stands up, and he will fight boredom by randomly pirating or step-ball-changing.
Cornerback coach James Rowe said, “He’s a dynamic athlete, and some of the movements he does are not the usual movements we see on the football field, but they help him do his job better.”
Kindle Wildor, whose locker is two away from Gordon, wasn’t sure what had happened one day when, out of nowhere, she saw Gordon doing a backflip from a standing position.
“It was crazy,” said Wildor. “I was like – wow. Real flexible. Explosive.”
It’s the result of years of hard work, from stretching during cartoons as a kid to imitating Jackson in dance competitions to halftime shows at Storm Games. Gordon’s trajectory has always included body control, balance, explosiveness and confidence.
Gordon said, “I feel like I have complete control, and I know how to balance my body or shift my weight a certain way if I miss a step.” to be done.” “I feel like I can calculate the way I need to move myself to get what I want to do.”