Jerrell Freeman spent his first 10 games as a Bears player appealing a performance-enhancing drug suspension. When he finally lost — he said in a statement at the time he made a mistake with his prescription medication — the inside linebacker was banished to Texas and Georgia last month.
He returned after four games Monday, and said Tuesday he wasn’t worried how the suspension would affect his reputation.
“People know me,” he said. “People know who I am. People know what I’m about. I wouldn’t do that on purpose, do you know what I mean?”
He wouldn’t discuss specifics of his violation, or his appeal, but wouldn’t use ignorance about the violation as an excuse.
“Regardless of whether I thought it was (illegal) or not, that’s my responsibility,” he said. “I get paid to know things like that, not get paid to think — so I didn’t get paid for those weeks.”
Freeman, who watched all four Bears games on television, said he was rusty Wednesday, and actually leaned on rookie Nick Kwiatkoski for help with new calls.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he hopes Freeman’s return will help his unit improve off their worst tackling game of the season. With two games left in the season, Fangio said the Bears expect Freeman to pick up where he left off before leaving the team.
Asked if he gave credence to players’ reasons for suspensions — receiver Alshon Jeffery blamed an anti-inflammatory — coach John Fox was blunt.
“I care about the people, so I can’t say I don’t care,” he said. “They both made mistakes.”