Another blunder by bumbling Bears
Team's recent history of ineptitude makes it hard to excuse Taylor misunderstanding
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- It is certainly possible that Chester Taylor misunderstood Lovie Smith.
Taylor has never been cut from a team before, and thus it is conceivable Smith's direct and honest comments to the running back Monday morning could have been interpreted incorrectly.
But when these things happen to the Chicago Bears -- mostly because these things always seem to happen to the Bears and not to other teams -- it is taken as one more piece of evidence in Exhibit A: Organization is a dysfunctional embarrassment.
It is one thing to make bad draft choices (see: Jarron Gilbert, who was waived Monday) or take fliers on guys everyone else could have told you were hopeless (see: Vernon Gholston, also cut). And again, misunderstandings happen, though it's not every day you see a 10-year veteran leave a team facility believing he had been waived by the head coach only to be beckoned back hours later by the club's director of player personnel and general counsel telling him he hadn't.
But in case anyone is keeping score -- and other teams, players and agents do -- this is arguably the fourth blunder by the Bears this year, only adding to a reputation that at the very least says they're not worthy of respect, and at the worst, maybe not worth doing business with in the future.
The first of 2011 was the draft-day gaffe with the Baltimore Ravens, which Bears general manager Jerry Angelo may have gotten away with convincing fans was an honest mistake if Ravens coach John Harbaugh hadn't made a special point three months later of arguing otherwise.
"I'm not buying the mistake thing. It wasn't a mistake. They knew what they were doing," Harbaugh said in a stunning interview on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 in late July. He accused the Bears of reneging on a draft-day trade by purposely failing to notify the league of the move.
"They basically just stole two spots from us, and that's not OK. ... It's not ethical, it's not right. And I personally agree with our owner, Steve Bisciotti, that they should have been held accountable for it," Harbaugh said, admitting the Ravens would be reluctant to engage in trade talks with the Bears in the future.
While the handling of the Olin Kreutz negotiations and the Family Night debacle are different matters, they both received the sort of national attention that once again shed an unflattering light on the team.
Giving a 13-year veteran an hour deadline to accept a contract offer as Kreutz's agent said Angelo did, then essentially telling one of your team leaders and core players not to let the door hit him on the way out, was perceived as classless, both by players on others teams and, worse, by players in their own locker room. It was especially bad when it was learned later that Smith had assured Kreutz he wanted him to stay.
Things always seem to end badly when players leave the Bears. Again, that is not necessarily the case with other teams.
When they managed to completely alienate the 10,000-plus fans who showed up to do little more than watch the team practice last month but were turned away because the already unsuitable turf was deemed unplayable, it was as though the Bears were auditioning to be lampooned in a late-night monologue.
The team has since offered to give everyone who was turned away free tickets to next year's event, but the damage had been done, eliciting more unwanted discussion about the stadium's crummy sod and more pointed criticism from their own players.
Now, this latest incident with Taylor is just one more unwanted example of ineptitude from an organization that has built a strong tradition in that department (see: Dave McGinnis' premature hiring announcement).
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Whether the Taylor thing indicates a disconnect between the coaching staff and front office, as some will suggest, is not entirely clear. But it is certainly not unreasonable to suggest that it shows the coaching staff and player personnel people might not be on the same page when the coaches tell Taylor he doesn't have a place on the team and executives tell him he does.
What is evident is that they have a head coach who has carefully cultivated a nurturing relationship with his players that is often not in sync with what is happening upstairs.
It also signals a lack of communication within the building that many agents have said begins with the Bears ownership and has been apparent for years.
Of course, Taylor, his agent and everyone else on the football planet knows he will still be gone by the end of the week. Taylor will get picked up by another team, but destroyed in the blunder was any chance the Bears may have had to trade him.
Chalk it up as just another day for the NFL's best source of comic relief.
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
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