Just as he was working to pull himself out of a public relations disaster, Chicago Bears president George McCaskey went after beloved former Bears center Olin Kreutz, eight-time team captain and the team’s coveted four-time winner, for a new one. build out. Brian Piccolo Award.
On a busy Monday for the franchise that began with the firing of general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy, McCaskey announced a streamlined organizational flow chart, with the new GM reporting directly to him, not President/CEO Ted Phillips, who Leading the initiative to build a new stadium in Arlington Heights.
The search for a GM and coach, which will be headed by McCaskey, will begin immediately. But before he jumped into it, he picked up an even weirder fight at an even stranger time when he insisted that Kreutz lied last week by revealing on the WSCR-AM 670 that the Bears cost him $15 an hour in 2018. was offered a part-time position. Former Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand verified that story.
“I’ve learned over the years to take everything Olin says with a grain of salt,” McCaskey said in a 59-minute news conference lasting more than 54 minutes. “And I look forward to hearing that story again. I hope he covers it in his Hall of Fame induction speech.”
Asked if the story was untrue, McCaskey paused before proceeding: “It happens sometimes with Olin. You don’t get the whole story. Olin knows (what) the story is.”
Kretz, a six-time Pro Bowl selection drafted by the Bears in 1998, was outraged by McCaskey’s claim that his recalculation was not accurate.
“I have such a great life because of the football, the Bears, McCaskey, (former GM) Jerry Angelo, Ted Phillips,” Kretz said. “It frustrates you. I always thought maybe George didn’t like me, and I confirmed it today. Never mind. I’m not worried that he doesn’t like me.”
“I wouldn’t say ‘injury,’ but just think about yourself, you run an organization and you say that about a player who, the last time I played for the Bears, I tore a Lisfranc ligament in my leg. And I finished the game. What are you doing here?”
Kretz suffered that injury after the 2010 season when he lost the NFC Championship Game to the Green Bay Packers. This was the last game played before McCaskey replaced his brother Michael as team chairman.
“I went to (offensive line coach Mike) Tice — I’m a free agent year after year, I’m in my 13th year, (J) Cutler already checked out that game — and I said, ‘ I think I just broke my leg,'” Kretz said. “Tice says, ‘We have no other center. Can you finish the game?’ You do all that… and that’s what’s frustrating for me.
“George hasn’t even spoken to me in 11 years, and he’s going to take everything he says with a grain of salt? Now you don’t even know me. You’re assuming I I’m this guy and you don’t know. I coach Little League football. I coach the kids. I do all this and now all of a sudden I’m a liar? And it’s not just this story – whatever I say, you Take it with a grain of salt?”
Heystand told the Tribune that he had a written offer from Pace with loose details about what Kretz would do, which he presented to Kretz at the Lake Forest Hotel. The offer was for $15 an hour.
“I went to Ryan and Matt because Olin had come to training camp at the start and spent a few days there helping people along with (former line coach) Tony Wise,” said Hiestand, who was appointed as Notre Dame’s line coach last week. was appointed as “The players loved being around Olin. I went to Ryan and Matt and I said, ‘How can we get Olin involved on a daily basis where that player was around for hours?’
“I knew a full-time thing would be too much for him and his family, but maybe that player could come in for hours and be available to go to the practice field. They were both like, ‘What an amazing thing.’ Thoughts.’ That’s exactly what he said.
“So Ryan said, ‘Let me think about it and put something together and I’ll get back to you,’ and he came back with me. I don’t have a copy of it now, but he wrote it, what in general (Kreutz) would have been doing. I went and met Olin and presented him. He wanted to do it. He was hoping to do. Once he came back at $15 an hour, he couldn’t justify it. Olin wasn’t making fun of him. He was stunned. I was like, ‘I don’t know these people that well. It’s only been half a year since I came here.
“It’s not an attack on George at all. George always treated me well. I’m sure it never got to him because it was such a small deal. Over the years, they no longer love Olin because he Criticizes him in the media, but that’s what everyone else does. It’s not like he’s the only one. I just want it to be accurate. George said publicly and it’s Olin’s reputation and it’s not right Is.
Kretz said he joined Paes on Monday to ensure that his memory does not distort facts after three-and-a-half years.
“I said, ‘I’m calling you just to make sure I’m not mad that $15 an hour was offered,'” Kretz said. “And Ryan said, ‘Yeah, that was the standard proposition at the time.’ He kept saying there was a misunderstanding. He thought I wanted to come in and hang out, so he made a standard offer that they give to people who are coming to the camp to work. He said that He should have called me and told me more about it.
“Ryan said that clearly George never heard of it. The problem is when you don’t call people to check something and you go out there call someone a liar.
There was probably a disconnect between how much Kretz was willing to put in and how Paes and Negi wanted to engage him. Whatever the case, Kretz learned for the first time on Monday that the bears considered it a misunderstanding. What is undeniable to Kretz and Hiestand is that the offer was $15 an hour as of writing.
A misunderstanding, if that was the case, has now turned into something more sinister for Kretz, whose four Piccolo awards are the most in team history. All McCaskey had to answer was that he planned to look into the matter. Instead, he questioned the integrity of one of the more popular former players, whose voice many fans turn to to understand the franchise’s ongoing struggles.
“The stories I’m telling know they’re true,” Kretz said. “Now they have to go and say that all the stories I told are not true? I’m sorry guys, most of the stories I tell are actually articles written about them. There are real people out there like Harry who will tell you he proposed to me. I’m not lying about this. Why would I (the heck) make something like this? he’s mad. ,
That’s crazier than offering Kretz $15 an hour in the first place.