Jay Cutler: Bears ‘right there on that edge’ between tough, dumb
BOURBONNAIS — Kyle Long was Goldberg at the “Royal Rumble.”
Saturday, the Bears’ best player sprinted 55 yards across the Soldier Field turf to jump into a pile caused by another Bears training camp fight.
At that moment — when the three-time Pro Bowler launched put all 6-6, 320 pounds into defending his offensive teammates —the Bears’ pugnacious, tough-guy training camp stopped being cute. It started being dangerous.
Enough is enough.
“We’re getting to a point where it’s a tough team, I think,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “Now we’re getting to the point where we’re just kind of being a dumb team.”
The Bears are “right there on that edge” between the two, he said.
“(Long has) got to be smarter than that,” Cutler said. “We’ve talked to him. He’s better than that. He’s smarter than that. He has come a long way in his years here. I know he’s protecting his teammates and doing everything possible, but some things we just can’t do.”
Long and his teammates discussed his actions immediately on the sideline afterward and again in the Bears’ locker room after “Family Fest.” They told Long — who is as beloved in the locker room as anyone on the Bears — to control himself and consider the situation.
“Just think about it,” said cornerback Tracy Porter, who trails only kicker Robbie Gould and Cutler in NFL tenure among the Bears. “You have all the guys that you’re going to need for the season, and you just dive in a pile.”
The same head-shaking could be reserved, times four, for offensive lineman Ted Larsen, whose next fight will give him one for each finger in a balled-up fist. He was in the middle of the Saturday scuffle that cleared the bench and brought outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who hasn’t been cleared to play, out into the fray.
Coach John Fox, who likes to remind reporters that football “is a combative game played combative people,” probably doesn’t mind the attitude as much as Marc Trestman would have. The Bears’ former coach said two years ago that in-camp fighting was a “disciplinary issue” and a “major safety” concern.
It’s human nature to defend yourself and the player on your side of the ball, Porter said.
“But overall, I think it’s kinda senseless,” he said. “You’re losing reps. Guys are going to get tired. You’re at a higher risk for guys to get hurt.”
Having a common enemy Thursday, when the Bears host the Broncos in their first exhibition game, should smooth out the chippiness.
Cutler’s new center could improve, or torpedo, the Bears’ attitude. Larsen claimed Monday the fighting was out of his system — but said the same Thursday, too.
“I’m not a guy who’s going to take crap from anybody or stand down,” said Larsen, who will replace the injured Hroniss Grasu at center. “So that’s probably the (gist) of it.”
To his credit, Long seemed properly chastened Monday.
“It’s unfortunate what unfolded,” Long said. “But it’s football — tempers can go sometimes. But at the same time, we’re all family, so we’re all talking about it amongst each other in the locker room. Not in units … as a group.
“It can’t happen. We can’t let that happen. And I hold myself accountable for some of the stuff. That’s on me. It’s a bad representation of the Bears. And a bad representation of myself as an athlete and somebody as a role model for younger kids.”
The saltiness ends on the field, Porter said.
“No one holds any grudges — no one’s fighting in the locker room,” he said. “It happens on the field. It’s done after that. And those same two guys that end up in the scuffle, they’re talking to each other in the locker room, laughing and talking.”
Reporter Mark Potash contributed.