Booker back where he belongs as Bears receiver

Matt Trowbridge

Marty Booker never left.

Yes, he played for the Dolphins, but he kept his house in Chicago after being traded four years ago. And now he’s a Bear again.

“I love Chicago,” Booker said. “That’s why I wanted to keep my house, in case I wanted to come back in the offseason and visit and mess around a bit. Things worked out perfect that I did keep it.”

Booker is the last Bear to top 1,000 yards receiving and set a team record with 100 receptions in 2001. He caught 249 passes for 2,975 yards his last three seasons in Chicago, but never approached those numbers in Miami. He topped out with 55 catches for 747 yards in four years with the Dolphins and was thrilled to return to Chicago for two years and $3.5 million after Miami cut him.

“All my four years down there, it was like a coaching carousel, with coaches in and out, from the head coach to offensive coordinators.” Booker said. “It was hard to get acclimated to anything.”

Booker, 32, may not be the main cog he was five years ago, but he’s one of six receivers who has a shot at starting.

“I have no clue how it’s going to work out,” he said.

Even if Booker doesn’t start, his return has worked out well.

“Marty brings leadership. Stability. A guy that young guys can look up to because he has been there and been through the wars,” receivers coach Darryl Drake said. “I’m extremely happy that he’s here.

“Marty is not a real vocal guy. He leads by example. Guys can go to him. He knows a few tricks of the trade as it relates to getting open. He’s constantly sharing those things with the guys. That’s important.”

Booker does become vocal when talking about his affection for the Bears. And the pain of coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo coming to his hotel room to tell him he’d been traded before Chicago’s last 2004 preseason game.

“It was just a shock,” Booker said. “I never would have expected it right before a preseason game like that. It was a sour moment.”

Now, everything is sweet again with the longtime Chicago fan favorite.

“Everybody remembers how I left,” he said. “They always wanted me to come back. I would get fan mail from Bears fans. They kept up with me. To come back and be received like that was great.

“I always keep in my mind that everything comes full circle. The good thing is, it did. I don’t feel any different. It’s like I was just gone on a vacation for a bit.”

Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.