Here is most of my interview with Olin Kreutz. When I spoke to him, he had just returned from a workout, which means he missed Bears general manager Jerry Angelo’s press conference.
I’m publishing it this way, in part, because it’s been hectic and, in part, because I wanted you to see the context my questions.
And it’s 11:22 p.m.
SJ: How are you feeling?
OK: It’s all water under the bridge. It’s been talked to death. They made a decision, I made a decision and it’s over.
It’s not easy. I wanted to a Bear. They know that. To be fair to both sides, it just didn’t work.
It’s just a feeling that I got. I don’t know how to put it. I don’t want to railroad anyone on my way out. The whole organization has been great to me. I’m pretty sure they know I’ve given it everything I’ve got. We both come out winners. No matter what happens, I would be fine.
You definitely don’t want to leave, and railroad an organization, and be bitter. There’s just no way I could be bitter about Chicago. Negotiations are never pretty.
I’m going for the best for me, and they’re going for the best for them.
Usually, people meet in the middle.
But we couldn’t find that middle this time.
SJ: Would you be a Bear if they added $500,000?
OK: The only way I can put it is, I have more than enough money. It’s just a feeling I had from them, during the negotiations. Did they want me? I don’t know how to put it. Money was the last factor, really.
SJ: Were you bothered by the “Take it or Leave” offer?
OK: That was hard to deal with. That was hard to deal with on Saturday. We had just started negotiating on a Thursday. I would expect that maybe two days to run it by people. You have people you talk to. There are other people you have to talk to in your life.
It just didn’t work out.
SJ: Angelo said other options accelerated the process.
OK: I guess, they couldn’t wait for me. But there must have been someone else bidding for [Chris] Spencer. So you have to take them for their word.
SJ: What are you going to miss the most?
OK: I’ll miss the guys. But, like I say to them every year, guys have to leave teams. I would not want to be a problem in the locker room. They know me.
I will cheer for the Bears, for the rest of my life. They got great coaches there. It’s a great organization. I don’t want this to be a cloud over anybody’s head.
SJ: How did you feel about teammates expressing frustration that you’re not coming back?
OK: They have strong leaders in that locker room. [Brian] Urlacher, [Jay] Cutler, [Patrick] Mannelly, [Julius] Peppers. [Roberto] Garza. They’ll move on. Their locker room is extremely strong. Sometimes, I think my leadership was overplayed in there.
They’ll be fine.
Everyone should know, I’m going to be fine. Don’t worry about me.
SJ: What’s next? Will you explore signing with other teams or are you going to retire?
OK: Everything is a possibility right now. I would say I’m leaning more toward retirement.
SJ: Why? Weren’t you feeling better than you have in years?
OK: The easiest way to put it is, it’s always been the Bears. If it didn’t work, it didn’t work.
I’d like to walk away on my own terms. Maybe this is the hint. I just found out that the Bears don’t want me. But I always had a feeling that my time was coming to an end. I did bust my tail this offseason, but I busted it thinking I was going to play for the Bears.
I’m comfortable that, no matter what happens, I’m fine. I can’t ask for anything more out of my career.
SJ: What about your unit, the o-line?
OK: The o-line is going to be fine. That o-line, they’re a great bunch of guys. They’re the hardest working group in that building. They stick together.