Olin Kreutz must apologize as well as he can analyze

Kreutz’s remaining media jobs are in jeopardy after he grabbed the neck of CHGO colleague Adam Hoge in response to a flippant remark Monday, according to sources.

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When contacted, Olin Kreutz replied, “Thanks for reaching out. I have no comment right now.”

When contacted, Olin Kreutz replied, “Thanks for reaching out. I have no comment right now.”

Sun-Times file photo

Former Bears center Olin Kreutz always has been a fan favorite. He became a media favorite by making himself available when many of his big-name teammates often didn’t.

That reputation led to a post-playing career in the media, where he has blossomed into a sharp, thoughtful critic of the Bears, making regular appearances on The Score and NBC Sports Chicago.

Now, Kreutz’s most favored status is in jeopardy after he grabbed the neck of CHGO colleague Adam Hoge in response to a flippant remark Monday, according to sources. The sports-media startup fired Kreutz, and his other employers will be watched for their response.

“We’re looking into the situation; we’re evaluating what our next moves will be,” said Kevin Cross, the president and general manager of NBC 5, Telemundo Chicago and NBC Sports Chicago. “At this time, we haven’t made any decisions.”

The Score operations director Mitch Rosen and Kreutz’s agent, Steve Mandell, declined to comment. CHGO head of content Kevin Kaduk also declined to comment.

When contacted, Kreutz replied, “Thanks for reaching out. I have no comment right now.”

The incident occurred at CHGO’s West Loop office. Hoge did not require treatment, and he didn’t file a police report. He returned to work Tuesday to host his Bears podcast.

CHGO posted a statement Monday night on Twitter that said, “On Monday morning, an incident occurred in which Olin Kreutz physically attacked a CHGO employee. Effective immediately, Olin Kreutz is no longer with CHGO. Although we are shocked by the incident, we are thankful that the employee is okay. The health and safety of our employees is of the utmost importance, and we will not tolerate any action that puts that in jeopardy.”

Kreutz responded with his own tweet, quoting former boxer Mike Tyson: “Social media made y’all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.”

That might be acceptable on the field, but it won’t fly in the workplace. Even fans who have rallied around Kreutz can’t defend his actions.

They were on his side when Bears chairman George McCaskey, during a disastrous season-ending news conference, essentially said Kreutz lied about the Bears offering him $15 an hour to be a player consultant in 2018.

“I’ve learned over the years to take just about anything that Olin says with a grain of salt,” McCaskey said. “And I look forward to hearing that story again and hope he includes it in his Hall of Fame induction speech.”

Kreutz delighted fans with his response on The Score: “If that man would’ve said that to my face, we would’ve had a problem.”

Kreutz’s career arc was on the rise. For the last two seasons, his analysis on NBCSCH’s “Football Aftershow” following Bears games became must-see TV. Kreutz didn’t take cheap shots. He made pointed comments, dissecting the team’s problems on offense under former coach Matt Nagy. Kreutz also delivered honest, impassioned analysis on The Score.

Now he has hit a critical juncture in his career. First and foremost, he needs to own up to his mistake and apologize. Then NBCSCH and The Score will have a decision to make. Kreutz had appeared on NBC 5’s “Sports Sunday” the night before the incident. CHGO, a fledgling operation based around team-dedicated, live-streamed podcasts, wasn’t the best fit for Kreutz.

This isn’t to say Kreutz should be “canceled,” the popular parlance for someone or something being stricken from society. Kendall Gill recovered from his own transgression in March 2013 to become an integral part of NBCSCH’s Bulls pregame and postgame shows.

After a heated exchange with former Northwestern basketball player Tim Doyle on “SportsTalk Live,” Gill confronted Doyle and punched him in the face. Gill returned to what was then Comcast SportsNet in December 2015.

Sports media is littered with people who have nothing to say, even on major broadcast networks. NBC lined up former Saints quarterback Drew Brees before he retired, thinking it had the next great NFL analyst. But Brees fell flat calling a playoff game last season, and he lost his luster.

Kreutz is one of the best football analysts in Chicago. If he can be as contrite in his apology to Hoge and CHGO as he is thoughtful in his analysis, Kreutz figures to be back on the air next season.

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