By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

New species of Bear

Dante Rosario did not choose the latest stop in his peripatetic football career.

Nevertheless, the former Dayton High School football star and current member of the NFL’s Chicago Bears believes he’s found an organization he can stick with.

“They’ve been a franchise since 1920, and if I have to say one thing about them, it’s that they know how to do it,” Rosario said Friday. “They get how to treat everybody that’s involved with the Chicago Bears. It’s a first-class organization.”

Rosario returned to Yamhill County for the See Ya Later Foundation’s Dante’s Inferno Football Camp, held Friday and Saturday at Linfield College. He and Bears teammates Tony Fiammetta and Jeron Mastrud and a number of volunteer coaches provided football instruction to approximately 300 children in grades 4-9.

It may be hard to believe for many in Yamhill County, but the 2014 NFL season will be Rosario’s ninth as a professional. Rosario’s youthful visage conveys little wear and tear from his five years at the University of Oregon (2003-06) and eight NFL seasons with six teams.

Rosario had signed with the Dallas Cowboys for the 2013 season but never appeared in a game, having been traded to Chicago for a conditional seventh-round draft pick before the season began. The Bears had a first-year coach in Marc Trestman, a former Canadian Football League head coach, in 2013 and Rosario was months behind his peers in learning Trestman’s system.

“It was easy to make that transition,” Rosario said. “(I had to learn) new terminology, new schemes and just a different way of running things. The amount of help that I not only got from my coaches and from other players was phenomenal and it helped make my transition that much easier.”

Rosario made appearances in 15 of the Bears’ 16 games in 2013, starting three. He caught a single pass – his 100th career reception – for 13 yards against his former team, Dallas, on Dec. 9, 2013 in a 45-28 Bears victory. He re-signed with Chicago on a one-year contract this offseason.

As of this writing, Rosario is one of five tight ends on the Chicago Bears’ roster. Martellus Bennett, the former Texas A&M star entering his eighth NFL season, is the group’s headliner; Beaverton native Mastrud, Zach Miller and Matthew Mulligan round out the depth chart.

Concerns about playing time and statistics quickly faded away at Maxwell Field. Rosario amiably chatted with young campers and older parents, recalling his days growing up in Dayton. After all these years, Dayton, McMinnville and surrounding communities continue to embrace Dante Rosario.

The respect and admiration is mutual.

“The See Ya Later Foundation, they do a phenomenal job,” Rosario said. “The amount of people they get to volunteer and come and help out … And it’s a free camp. I’m just glad they’ve allowed me to be a part of it.”

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