11:12 AM EDT, March 21, 2013
It’s not so much that the Chicago Bears parted ways with Brian Urlacher, a surefire Hall of Famer robbed of his greatest asset by injuries.
No, it was the sloppy, squirrely, deceitful manner the Bears went about it.
It might be too much to say that Phil Emery lied about the way he would treat a franchise icon, but obviously the Bears general manager believes deceit has a place in his version of the truth.
Good to know as we proceed into the second year of Emery’s administration. Important for Bears players to know, too, now and in the future.
If you’re Lance Briggs or Charles Tillman, pay attention. The Bears will issue a lot of blather about how much they respect you and all you’ve given to the franchise, but we can conclude that privately there’s a good chance the GM will show you how full of it he is.
To recap, Emery said he would be the last person to "slight" Urlacher. Turns out, Emery was one of the first. The Bears GM was at the front of the line offering Urlacher a contract that guaranteed barely more than they would’ve been forced to offer a veteran of his experience.
Pathetic scripting by the Bears, too. Urlacher had one of the worst images and relationships with fans in this city. But the Bears still managed to get exposed as dolts and backstabbers. They lost a public battle in a lot of ways to a guy who declared he didn’t care about the fans. So Bears.
The football side of Halas Hall could’ve made a strong case early on for cutting ties with Urlacher: He had been hurt each of the last two seasons, he had missed games, he had lost too much speed, and blah, blah, blah.
But they mealymouthed it about wanting him back and having a place for him on first and second downs and blah, blah, blah. I’m not sure it was an outright lie among the Bears co-conspirators, but it was oily and useless.
If you had respect for him and if you knew you wanted him gone -- the football side of Halas Hall definitely wanted him gone -- then you explain at the earliest possible time that Urlacher will not be offered a deal to return. You don’t offer him a contract he was guaranteed to refuse just so you could say you offered him something out of respect.
What. A. Joke.
If the Bears respected Urlacher, they would’ve let him go early and honestly. That would’ve given Urlacher the best chance to make money. But that was not going to happen as they jerked him around. That was not going to happen as they gave him a take-it-or-leave-it offer. That was not going to happen as long as the Bears were negotiating with him, although in hindsight we learned that "negotiating" was a sham.
Truth is, the Bears didn’t show Urlacher any respect. They showed themselves to be duplicitous.
For most of his run here, Emery has been transparent about the problems he sees in this team, and his actions have backed up that talk. In this case, he looked transparently two-faced. It was a stupid and unnecessary act.
It might’ve looked heartless a couple months ago to dismiss one of the greatest players in NFL history just like. But it would’ve been a stand-up move by Bears wonks. Here, though, they’ve just made a slithering exit.
Emery’s lame act created a potential problem for a team he is charged with fixing. Instead of removing a leader from the locker room with a simple and straightforward evaluation of talent, Emery and his bunch come off as dishonest, disingenuous and disrespectful.
Ultimately, it might not matter. Maybe veteran players who run the locker room will get over it by the first minicamp after next month’s draft. Emery had better hope so. Same goes for the coach he hired. Otherwise, Marc Trestman might face the task of winning over a locker room where the trust issue was just used as a urinal.
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