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Tommie Harris-Deuce Lutui tussle began on play before ejection

Before I get to 10 quick reactions from the game today (and maybe a few extra, who knows), I went back to the copy of the game tape to see if I could determine what set Tommie Harris off this afternoon.

No one in the press box I spoke to could remember the last time a Bears’ player was ejected from a game, at least recently. I sure have not seen it in nine seasons, although I can tell you that running back Walter Payton was given the heave-ho from a game at Atlanta in 1980.

At any rate, there wasn’t a lot to watch because Harris got kicked out on the fourth play of the game. Here’s what I saw:

1-10-AZ 19. There was no interaction between Harris and Deuce Lutui, and Harris ran over to say a little something to his friend Larry Fitzgerald after he dropped a pass.

2-10-AZ 19. Lined up on the opposite side of the line, Harris had an unblocked path to Kurt Warner as left guard Reggie Wells blew his assignment. Harris hit Warner as he got rid of the ball. Again, no interaction with Lutui.

3-10-AZ 19. Harris was knocked down at the beginning of the play and as Warner released the ball, Lutui hit Harris again as he was trying to get up, the beginning of their brief scrum for the day.

1-10-AZ 42. Lutui drove Harris to the ground quickly at the beginning of Tim Hightower’s 13-yard run. Lutui stayed on top of Harris well after the play ended. The television cameras cut away at this point. When they pick up action again, Harris has flipped the tables and he’s on top of Lutui and punches him with his right hand in the facemask with referee Ed Hochuli within feet of the action. Middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer stands there shaking his head.

The Bears didn’t make their $40 million man Harris show accountability and discuss his ejection afterward. NFL rules mandate that players be available for postgame interviews. Harris split the locker room before reporters were allowed in and then stuck around to socialize with Fitzgerald and others afterward. Fellow defensive tackle Israel Idonije said that Lutui has a reputation for being dirty and “he’s one of those guys, that virus, that cancer.” All the more reason for Harris to watch himself around Lutui, right?

“[Harris] just apologized, and we understood,” free safety Danieal Manning said. “I’ve been ejected, it was high school and you being a big part of the team, a big spark on the team and it happens. You just have to cut down the margin of error as much as you can. Try to get away from the guy when you can, but we understand where Tommie is coming from, and he got caught second, and most of the time that’s how it happens.”

Harris, who was benched two weeks ago, has now created a situation where those in the organization, should they choose to do so, can make him a scapegoat for problems that appear to run deeper than a player who couldn’t control himself for one afternoon.

Check back a little later on for some rapid reaction.