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Tommie Harris says release is "bittersweet"

Tommie Harris knew this day was coming.

On Monday, the Bears released Harris, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who was the 14th overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft.

“I kind of knew. It’s nothing personal,” he said. “I want to thank the McCaskeys. I want to tell my fans I love them, and I’m going to miss the city and my teammates. I think it’s one of the best locker rooms in the NFL.”

Asked if he was disappointed by the decision, Harris said, “I’m not disappointed at all.

“I’m ready to start all over. But it’s one of those bittersweet deals.”

Asked if the Bears asked him to take a pay cut, Harris said, “My race was finished.

“It was done with the Bears.”

Once one of the league’s most dominant defensive tackles, Harris hasn’t reached the Pro Bowl since 2007, largely because of injuries. But Harris said he started to feel better toward the end of the 2010 season.

“I think my best football is ahead of me. I haven’t hit my prime yet,” said Harris, 27. “I didn’t start feeling good until the end of the season.”

As for Bears coach Lovie Smith, Harris had nothing but positive comments.

“We ended well,” Harris said. “I respected him.”

Harris said teams have already expressed an interest in him, and he may find a new NFL home sooner than later, presumably before a new CBA is worked out.