Chicago Sun-Times

May 2011 Archives

The unpaid nightclub bill that resulted in an altercation and subsequent arrest of Bears' free-agent running back Garrett Wolfe on Sunday morning in Miami totalled $1,572, according to the police report obtained by the Sun-Times on Monday afternoon.

After being charged with retail theft, disorderly conduct, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest with violence, the former Holy Cross High School and Northern Illinois star's bond has been set at $11,500.

Wolfe allegedly became aggressive while disputing the purchase of three bottles of champaign at Cameo Night Club in Miami Beach. He was forcefully removed from the club, causing business to stop and patrons to leave, according to the report released by the Miami Beach Police Department.

Once outside, Wolfe was initially restrained before being released in order to settle his bill when he allegedly lunged at an off-duty police officer, prompting a scuffle that resulted Wolfe and two off-duty officers sustaining abrasions before Wolfe was finally handcuffed, according to the report.

Wolfe, who officers said smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, threatened to sue the officers and at one point said: "Let's compare bank accounts," according to the report.

The arrest could make it more difficult for Wolfe, whose free-agent status remains in limbo during the lockout, to either re-sign with the Bears or latch on with another team.

When I spoke to him eight days ago, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler indicated that the offense would have some workouts, but he didn't offer much insight on them.

Players have been largely mum on the topic, but Bears tight end Greg Olsen offered some insight to me Sunday during the First Responders Bowl at St. Rita's High School, where he served as an honorary captain.

"It's been great," Olsen said. "You can train and do all your drills. But you can't substitute actually getting out there and running around and catching the ball."

Cutler and veteran backup Caleb Hanie was joined for three workouts by Bears receivers, tight ends and running backs. It's not entirely clear who showed up and who didn't but attendance was apparently pretty solid.

"We kind of said, 'If you want to be here, you'll make a way to be here, if it's important enough to you,' " Olsen said. "We had such a great turnout, and we have such a good group of guys.

"We don't have to beg anyone to come."

Olsen said it was helpful to get everyone together but he also didn't overplay what took place.

"It was a good start, but it wasn't anything major, and we didn't break any records," he said. "We'll correspond again, and come up with a string of days that works again."

Olsen said he and his teammates aren't worried about how little or much any other clubs are doing. The New Orleans Saints, for instance, reportedly hold workouts for 35 plus players, four times a week.

"Everyone has their own way of doing it. Everyone has a way that works. I'm sure the Saints feel great about the way they're doing it," Olsen said. "But we feel the way we're doing it is best for us."

When they got the invitation to attend the Chicago First Responders Memorial Bowl, Bears tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Brian Urlacher didn't spend much time making a decision.

"This is right up my alley," Olsen said, "to take a day, and support these guys, who do a lot for the city."

Added Urlacher, "These guys take care of us."

Olsen was the honorary captain for the firefighters, and Urlacher was the honorary captain for the police officers. Both were gracious to the many who approached them, whether it was just to shake a hand, request an autograph or to pose for a picture.

But the locked out NFL players enjoyed watching some quality football.

"It's cool to watch them play," Urlacher said. "There are some good players out here."

Most of them played in high school. Many of them played in college. And a few even played in the NFL.

Last year, in the inaugural game, the Chicago Police Enforcers won 21-14.

"We were robbed," Tom Ryan playfully said.

The president of the Chicago Firefighters Union, Ryan said he reviewed film and insisted a late goal-line fumble by the police should have been awarded to the firefighters.

He was thrilled with the start of Sunday's game at St. Rita's High School, as the Chicago Fire Dept. Blaze jumped out to an early lead and blocked two punts. But the Chicago Police Enforcers rebounded, forced overtime and kicked a field goal to win the game 29-26.

So the police keep bragging rights, but both sides were thankful for the support of the Bears' players and the public, who showed up in the thousands.

"It's great for the camaraderie. We may be playing against each other, but our issues are similar and we have the same challenges, and we stand together," said Mike Shields, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Added Ryan, "It's been an especially tough year [for both departments], with all the deaths we've had.

"This kind of thing brings everyone together."

By Neil Hayes
nhayes@suntimes.com


Chicago Bears running back Garrett Wolfe was arrested Sunday morning in a Miami Beach nightclub and charged with retail theft, disorderly conduct, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest with violence, according to Miami-Dade County Police Department records.

His bond has been set at $11,500.

"It started with him refusing to pay his bill at a club," said Miami Beach Police detective Juan Sanchez. "He became aggressive while being ejected by bouncers and two off-duty officers were summoned. They gave him the opportunity to settle his bill and he refused. He attacked one of the officers. Both officers suffered minor injuries."

The arrest of the former Holy Cross High and Northern Illinois star could make it more difficult for Wolfe, whose free-agent status remains in limbo during the lockout, to either re-sign with the Bears or latch on with another team.

"I'm one of those guys caught in limbo," Wolfe told the Sun-Times last week. "I've finished my fourth year. Technically, I'm a free agent but with no [collective bargaining agreement], and under the terms from last year, I'm not a free agent, so I'm caught in between. If we get a CBA figured out I'll be a free agent but if we don't I'm not a free agent. I'm just stuck in-between."

The 5-foot-7, 185-pounder has not displayed the game-breaking ability Bears' general manager Jerry Angelo hoped for when he made NIU's record-breaking running back the team's third-round choice in the 2007 NFL draft. While primarily serving as a special teams player, one of the most prolific running backs in college football history has amassed only 282 rushing yards in four seasons with the Bears.

A Bears spokesperson said the team officials had no immediate comment. Wolfe's agent, Rick Smith, also had no comment.

On Wednesday, Wolfe said he was eager for the lockout to end and his future to be resolved. Four days later, that future remains more unsettled than ever.

"It was good to get some time away from football but it's weird because I'm used to being back at work by now," he said. "It's weird, very weird, something we could never have seen happening this long. The attitude from most of the players is this has gone on long enough and it's something that needs to be taken care of. Guys are eager to get back to work."

The already intriguing quarterback arms race in the NFC North could get a whole lot more interesting.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting (via ProFootballTalk.com) that the Vikings are interested in obtaining ex-Bear and current Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton.

The quarterback-starved Vikings, as you surely recall, used the 12th overall pick in the April draft to select Florida State's Christian Ponder, who many thought would go much lower. Since expecting a rookie to take over during a lockout that could extend into training camp is stretch, acquiring a veteran such as Orton makes sense.

Lest you forget, Orton was traded to the Broncos along with two first-round draft picks and a third rounder (the Bears also got a fifth-round pick from Minnesota that they used to select Johnny Knox) before the 2009 season.

Full disclosure: It was a deal I begged Bears' GM Jerry Angelo to make at the time, although the cost of the trade remains the subject of great debate.

Anyway, stay tuned ...

Bears safety Chris Harris said he long ago put a 21-14 loss to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game behind him.

"I flushed it out, man," Harris said. "I'm getting ready for a new season. I let it go. It is what it is. They got the best of us that day and went on to win the Super Bowl. I'm looking forward to a new rivalry with them."

Harris believes the key to not letting what happened in that game happen again lies in part in signing key free agents like defensive tackle Anthony Adams, safety Danieal Manning, defensive back and special teams ace Corey Graham, and linebackers Nick Roach, Brian Iwuh and Pisa Tinoisamoa.

"We've got a lot of free agents out there that I hope we can get signed and get back to help us compete," Harris said. "We weren't to far away from getting to a championship [last season]."

Harris also laughed about the team drafting Cal safety Chris Conte in the third round, continuing a trend that began when general manager Jerry Angelo made him the team's sixth-round pick in 2005. Angelo has selected a safety in every draft since.

"That's the way it goes around here," Harris said. "Seven in seven years starting with me. Hey, it is what it is."

The ongoing NFL lockout feels strange to two Bears players who attended a charity event hosted by ex-Bear Jerry Azumah at Lucky Strike Lanes in Chicago on Wednesday night.

"It feels a little different not being around the guys in May and potentially June," said safety Chris Harris. "It feels different but everybody is a professional. We've got a group of veteran guys so everybody is taking care of their business."

While most players will tell you they have enjoyed the extra time away from the game, they are starting to feel antsy now that the time when organized team activities usually begin is fast approaching.

"It was good to get some time away from football but it's weird because I'm used to being back at work by now," said backup running back Garrett Wolfe, who also attended the event to raise funds for high-achieving students. "It's weird, very weird, something we could never have seen happening this long. The attitude from most of the players is this has gone on long enough and it's something that needs to be taken care of. Guys are eager to get back to work."

Losing two of three games to the Green Bay Packers last season, including a 21-14 loss in the NFC Championship Game, hasn't changed Brian Urlacher's opinion of which team is tops in the NFC.

"I think we're the best team in our conference," Urlacher said while speaking to elementary school students in Albuquerque, N.M., according to the Albuquerque Journal. "I know we're not the Super Bowl champs like the Green Bay Packers. ... We want to be the best in our conference and to be there, we've got to go through Green Bay."

Urlacher said the NFL lockout isn't keeping him from following his normal offseason routine.

"It's a little longer, that's all," Urlacher told the paper. "Longer than I'd like it to be. I'm still working out hard -- just not with my teammates. That's the biggest difference. I'm doing the same program I would be if I were at the facility."

The former University of New Mexico standout appeared at the school near his hometown of Lovington to promote the NFL's "Fuel Up To Play 60" program, which promotes a healthier lifestyle for kids.

The seven-time Pro Bowl performer did not want to discuss issues surrounding the league's current labor stoppage.

"I'm not going to get into it," Urlacher said. "I want to play football. I know everyone else wants to play football. Hopefully we can make that happen soon."

U.S. Appeals Court: Lockout officially back on

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Apparently, the U.S. Court of Appeals will do what it pleases, when it pleases.

And even the court's clerk has no insight on its actions.

After the clerk suggested a decision would not come today, the three-judge panel decided Monday that the league's lockout of players should stay in place until a full appeal is heard.

The vote was once again 2-1, with Judge Kermit Bye dissenting.

The ruling said the NFL "likely will suffer some degree of irreparable harm without a stay."

In addition, the two judges who backed the lockout took a swipe at Judge Susan Nelson.

"In sum, we have serious doubts that the district court [Nelson] had jurisdiction to enjoin the league's lockout, and accordingly conclude that the league has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits," the majority opinion said.

Meanwhile, Judge Bye wrote: "Notwithstanding the majority's analysis, the NFL has not persuaded me it will suffer irreparable harm during the pendency of this expedited appeal."

The next key date is June 3, when judges will hear arguments on the legitimacy of the lockout. But there are a lot of moving parts. After not meeting since April 20, the owners and players resumed court-ordered mediation with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan today. In addition, U.S. District Judge David Doty is figuring out how the $4 billion in broadcast revenue should be split up, since he ruled the NFL can't use it as a form of lockout insurance.

"The NFL's request for a stay of the lockout that was granted today means no football," the NFLPA said in a statement. "The players are in mediation and are working to try to save the 2011 season."

With the legal victory in hand, the NFL said it was time to focus on an agreement that "will improve the game for the benefit of current and retired players, teams, and, most importantly, the fans."

"This litigation has taken the parties away from the negotiating table where these issues should be resolved. We remain confident that the appellate court will determine that this is a labor dispute that should be governed by federal labor law. But the league and players, without further delay, should control their own destiny and decide the future of the NFL together through negotiation," the league said in a statement.

It's hard to know exactly how this is all going to go down. But, in my opinion, neither side will budge until the courts start to favor one side. That should happen after June 3.

I feel bad that I've been out of pocket for a while, but I was working on a feature about Bulls guard Derrick Rose. That story published earlier today.

But, if you're not interested in the Bulls, here's some Bears news. Quarterback Jay Cutler told me Saturday that the Bears are going to start workouts soon. He wouldn't specify a date, but he said the offensive players are "locked and loaded." He also had a funny comment about why defensive players aren't included.

Here's a link to the story.

Cutler's had a lot going on, but he looked to be in good shape, and he told me his knee is "ready to go."

When I talked to him about a month ago, Cutler downplayed the need to hold player-only workouts. But he seemed serious yesterday.

"It wasn't necessary [before]," Cutler said. "But now is the time for everyone to kind to get together, and brush it off, and we're going to do that here in the next couple of weeks."

He also addressed the selection of Gabe Carimi, and he talked about his fundraiser to benefit the Jay Cutler Foundation.

I welcome your comments and questions.

Mike Ditka addressed issues from player safety to the league's labor stoppage in an interview with Dave Krieger of the Denver Post (via ProFootballTalk.com).

His most interesting comments, however, involved quarterback Jay Cutler.

"Jay Cutler is a talent," Ditka said. "Nobody will argue that. I think part of playing quarterback is talent. The most important part of playing quarterback is leadership. And the way you act and the way you conduct yourself around your teammates on the sideline, with the media, all those things.

"Now, I can't speak for Jay in the sense of, I don't know what being a diabetic does to you. I have no idea, so I can't really speak to that. But I'm just saying that he needs to improve his body language, and I think everybody would admit that.

"But as far as the game of football and the ability to throw the football, he does that very well. And I think the other quality we got to get to is the leadership thing. You've got to be able to lead as a quarterback."

George McCaskey takes over as Bears chairman

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George McCaskey officially accepted the chairmanship of the Bears' board of directors today at Halas Hall, the team's website reported.

The club announced in April 2010 that George would replace his older brother Michael and the transition has been in the works since then.

"It's humbling and exciting," George told the team's website. "All that my brothers and sisters are asking of me is everything that I've got, and I'm sure Bears fans expect nothing less than everything that I've got, and that's what I intend to give."

George headed the team's ticket office since 1991.

George has met with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, and he's scheduled to visit with New York Giants owner John Mara before the season.

The U.S. Court of Appeals granted the NFL an expedited appeal and scheduled oral arguments to be made to a three-judge panel on June 3.

Judges Bye, Colloton, and Benton, will hear the arguments at 10:00 a.m. CDT at the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse, in St. Louis, Missouri.

Each side will have 30 minutes.

Doctors at Boston University determined that former Bears Dave Duerson's brain had "classic" and "moderately advanced" symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma.

"When you look at the brain microscopically, it's indisputable. There's no evidence of any other disorder," said Dr. Ann McKee, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at BU. "He has the classic appearance of [CTE]..."

"He had severe involvement of all the structures that affect things like judgment, inhibition, impulse control, mood and memory," said McKee, who is also director of Neuropathology and Brain Banks for New England VA Medical Centers.

Duerson died at 50, when he shot himself in the chest in February and insisted that his brain be examined by Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Duerson is the 14th of 15 former NFL players studied at the VA CSTE Brain Bank to be diagnosed with CTE.

Duerson, who starred at Notre Dame, played safety in the NFL for 11 seasons, starting with the Bears. He was named to four Pro Bowls and won two Super Bowls.

Duerson's family had requested the findings of his brain be made public. The center now has more than 70 brains of former athletes and military veterans. The NFL provided a $1 million gift to the CSTE.

"My father was a man of many accomplishments, both on the field and off the field. With these accomplishments came many battles," said Duerson's son Tregg. "It is my greatest hope that his death will not be in vain, and through this research, his legacy will live on."

Tregg Duerson urged the greater football community to support CTE research.

Doctors also said that Duerson had 10 known concussions during his NFL career, but they do not know if he had any before that.

UPDATE: The NFL issued a statement.

"We once again express our deepest sympathy to the Duerson family. Dave Duerson was an outstanding player, but an even better person, including being recognized in 1987 as the NFL Man of the Year (now the Walter Payton Award) for his significant contributions to community service. We hope these findings will contribute more to the
understanding of CTE. Our Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee will study today's findings, and as a league we will continue to support the work of the scientists at the Boston University Center and elsewhere to address this issue in a forthright and effective way. We also will continue to ensure that concussions are properly treated in the NFL,
expand the help we are providing to our retired players, further evaluate playing rule and policy changes to reduce and prevent unnecessary contact with the head, and advocate for the passage of Lystedt laws in all states to better protect young athletes in that
suffer concussions in any sport."

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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