Chicago Sun-Times

Olin Kreutz: "I will cheer for the Bears, for the rest of my life"

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Here is most of my interview with Olin Kreutz. When I spoke to him, he had just returned from a workout, which means he missed Bears general manager Jerry Angelo's press conference.

I'm publishing it this way, in part, because it's been hectic and, in part, because I wanted you to see the context my questions.

And it's 11:22 p.m.

SJ: How are you feeling?
OK: It's all water under the bridge. It's been talked to death. They made a decision, I made a decision and it's over.

It's not easy. I wanted to a Bear. They know that. To be fair to both sides, it just didn't work.
It's just a feeling that I got. I don't know how to put it. I don't want to railroad anyone on my way out. The whole organization has been great to me. I'm pretty sure they know I've given it everything I've got. We both come out winners. No matter what happens, I would be fine.

You definitely don't want to leave, and railroad an organization, and be bitter. There's just no way I could be bitter about Chicago. Negotiations are never pretty.
I'm going for the best for me, and they're going for the best for them.
Usually, people meet in the middle.
But we couldn't find that middle this time.

SJ: Would you be a Bear if they added $500,000?
OK: The only way I can put it is, I have more than enough money. It's just a feeling I had from them, during the negotiations. Did they want me? I don't know how to put it. Money was the last factor, really.

SJ: Were you bothered by the "Take it or Leave" offer?
OK: That was hard to deal with. That was hard to deal with on Saturday. We had just started negotiating on a Thursday. I would expect that maybe two days to run it by people. You have people you talk to. There are other people you have to talk to in your life.

It just didn't work out.

SJ: Angelo said other options accelerated the process.
OK: I guess, they couldn't wait for me. But there must have been someone else bidding for [Chris] Spencer. So you have to take them for their word.

SJ: What are you going to miss the most?
OK: I'll miss the guys. But, like I say to them every year, guys have to leave teams. I would not want to be a problem in the locker room. They know me.

I will cheer for the Bears, for the rest of my life. They got great coaches there. It's a great organization. I don't want this to be a cloud over anybody's head.

SJ: How did you feel about teammates expressing frustration that you're not coming back?
OK: They have strong leaders in that locker room. [Brian] Urlacher, [Jay] Cutler, [Patrick] Mannelly, [Julius] Peppers. [Roberto] Garza. They'll move on. Their locker room is extremely strong. Sometimes, I think my leadership was overplayed in there.

They'll be fine.

Everyone should know, I'm going to be fine. Don't worry about me.

SJ: What's next? Will you explore signing with other teams or are you going to retire?
OK: Everything is a possibility right now. I would say I'm leaning more toward retirement.

SJ: Why? Weren't you feeling better than you have in years?
OK: The easiest way to put it is, it's always been the Bears. If it didn't work, it didn't work.

I'd like to walk away on my own terms. Maybe this is the hint. I just found out that the Bears don't want me. But I always had a feeling that my time was coming to an end. I did bust my tail this offseason, but I busted it thinking I was going to play for the Bears.

I'm comfortable that, no matter what happens, I'm fine. I can't ask for anything more out of my career.

SJ: What about your unit, the o-line?
OK: The o-line is going to be fine. That o-line, they're a great bunch of guys. They're the hardest working group in that building. They stick together.

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11 Comments

Great interview on both ends. This is exactly why Olin Kreutz should have received one more year. A true professional in every thing did and said. He didn't want to create any distractions for a team of guys he wont be playing with, a team player till the end. I salute you Mr. Kreutz for setting the example on and off the field. One more stop, Canton.

If $4 million a year for an over the hill center way past his prime who hasn't played well in three years doesn't say we want you, I don't know what does. The Bears are often accused of being cheap, but they weren't this time. That offer was more than fair. Olin blew it.

That being said, he's been a tireless worker for the Bears and has had his moments of brilliance. Whatever he chooses to do next, I hope it works out well for him.

Kruetz should have gotten a two year deal from the Bears, but the salary that ESPN published he was asking for was, IMO, ridiculous considering the new collective bargaining agreement, the incredibly small timeline for free agency, and his level of play that past 2-years - which was okay - but probably not a 5-6 million dollar per-year level.

I think the Kreutz's representation really bungled this as much as the Bears. I read published quotes that he thought the Bears were pressuring him to move quickly, that they lied about talking to other centers.

What about the reports that Kreutz was looking at the 49ers? You're going to tell me that wasn't fed to the press by the agent's team?

There really isn't time for nonsense in free agency this year. Teams don't have time to screw around with overpaid vets holding out and looking for longer contracts.

I don't blame Olin, but I think his agent miscalculated the situation. A ton of short-term contracts were doled out around the league.

Olin should have taken the "final offer" and proved that he deserved another year.

This is definitely a LOSE LOSE situation.

Thanks for a classy exit Olin. The guys will be bitter for you. Sweet career in Chicago; you seal your legacy. If you retire, I hope you get on the radio with Thayer and JJ and mix things up a little for a game or two.

Olin has always been a solid guy. I wish him the best of luck in whatever he does going forward. He will be missed as a person and as a leader. As a player, he was not the same as he was 3 years ago, and definitely not the same as when he was earning those Pro Bowl berths. I have been harping on the Bears for several years now to have a backup plan, a developmental strategy for these aging players like Kreutz, Urlacher, etc., and I need to give them credit for starting down that path.

Ideally, the replacement would already be on the roster, but they tried that with Edwin Williams, and it didn't really pan out. So Spencer became a necessity. But kudos to Jerry and his staff for making a ballsy decision to part with a team leader when it didn't fit with what they were trying to do. It's no secret Jerry and Olin were not BFFs or anything, so there was probably more enjoyment than we can see on the surface, but it had to be done. With this new salary cap world in the new CBA, having dead money or wasted money is more damaging, especially when you have extensions to work out for Forte and others.

Spencer is in for $3M per year, and if he pans out, great. If not, you hope one of the young players can step up. If not, you draft someone early next year.

Again, a tough call, and I wish Olin the best of luck in whatever he does, but I applaud the move for the long term health of this team. Now the leader on offense can be Cutler, and not an older vet who is playing his last year or two. That's how it needs to be for this offense to take the next step.

Joe, have to disagree with you on Olin and his replacement Spencer.

Seems he was not good enough to stick as the starter in Seattle as they drafted one in Unger. I don't see Spencer as the solution at center or guard and may even add confusion to the O line as the center and I cannot believe he will be the team leader that Kruetz was for the Bears.

Lets face it the Bears owners are cheap first and foremost. Angelo and Ruskell please don't let your personal feelings adversely affect your decision making for the Bears as was suggested in previous documents on line and in the press?

Excellent analysis and points Joe F.

My thoughts exactly.

Kudos to the interviewer as well. Excellent, Excellent interview and to Olin...nothing but love for you...you will be missed, but you def went out like the class act you have always been. I am so incrediably impressed. If a tenth of the men that play professional football could demenstrate the work ethic and class you do, our very popular sport would be even better...Canton will be lucky to have you.

I do believe his departure...although, very sad is the opportunity Cutler needed to step up and be the man in that locker room. This is the most important year for Cutler in his entire sports career...it is huge...our division has improved immensely and now having the hated reigning Super Bowl champs over the cheese riddled boarder makes it all the more interesting.

First 3 games of the season is going to tell the tale of this season, I sadly predict...it will not be an easy road...but, I do believe they are capable of going 3-0 as they did last year to start a tough schedule...if they can pull it off we could be in for a very fun ride...if they do not we may be looking at 2012 before the snow flys.

BEAR DOWN CHICAGO BEARS....BEAR DOWN!!!!!!!!!

This is sad- as usual da Bears discard a stalwart to save a buck- like they don't make enough profit. Papa Bear must be looking down and smiling. Save those manhole covers!

Here's what I don't get... If you're willing to move Spencer to Guard and move Garza over to Center, why not just bring Olin back, keep Garza at Right Guard and move Spencer to Left Guard for next season... Clearly the Bears were just flat out done with Olin and they're using the Spencer signing as an excuse to part ways...

The Bears will definitely miss the leadership and cohesion that he brought to the locker room as state by many players... it's a Shame JA couldn't find a way to make this all work... You will be missed Olin!

Class act on and off the field. I wish all the players would take a lessen from Olin. I hope my kids display the same class and professionalism in their lines of work.

I hope he does "retire" and not because I have been critical of Kreutz play over the last few years, but it's only right that he retire a BEAR. That's what he is and always will be....that came out in the article and is why we all loved him as a player even while he was gutting it out on a bad achilles 2 years ago when we got Cutler.

I'd like to see him back in the building in a high profile front office gig once the emotions settle down.......Olin if you read this; from a long time BEARS fan I loved your grit , passion and desire for the game. You were fun to watch play and the quote you provided were always a great read, may you have health and prosperity in your future, and keep hating the "pack".......Go BEARS

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on July 31, 2011 11:19 PM.

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