Chicago Bears: Cutler, Urlacher deny rift
AP Sports Writer
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – New Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and star linebacker Brian Urlacher shot down reports of a rift, saying they’re simply not true.
“There’s nothing between us,” Cutler said Thursday, when he reported to training camp. “I just want to put that to rest. There never has been anything between us.”
Urlacher added: “I never said what I was quoted as saying and that’s it. I have a lot of respect for Jay. I think Jay knows that.”
Former Bears receiver Bobby Wade caused a stir when he told Minneapolis radio station KFAN-AM that Urlacher used a profanity while questioning Cutler’s manhood during a conversation in Las Vegas last weekend. Wade, who now plays for the Vikings, said Urlacher used a profane version of the word “wimp” during the interview that had to be edited out.
Chicago radio station WSCR-AM also reported that Urlacher had to be restrained from confronting Cutler during organized team activities.
“I wouldn’t go face-to-face with Brian, anyway,” Cutler said. “No, that’s never happened. I’ve hung out with Brian away from the facility numerous times and we’ve always gotten along.”
Urlacher, noting he was limited by a groin injury, denied the reports in an interview with the Chicago Tribune and did it again when he reported to camp.
“I didn’t practice this summer, so I don’t know how I would fight the guy if I didn’t practice,” Urlacher said. “We have no problems. I’m excited about football starting. I’m excited to have him as our quarterback.”
Why would Wade say that?
“I don’t know,” Urlacher said. “Maybe he’s jealous because we have a good quarterback now.”
Cutler said the first he heard of any friction was when he got a call from Urlacher to clear the air. Urlacher, however, said he had already taken several calls from teammates wondering if the reports were true when Cutler phoned.
“He called me and I said, What’s up (expletive), what are you doing?'” a grinning Urlacher said, uttering the same word he allegedly used with Wade. “It’s so dumb to me that this even got to this point, but it did and then here we are.”
The Bears believe they are in a better place after going 9-7 and missing the playoffs for the second straight year. They have a franchise quarterback for the first time in decades after acquiring Cutler in an offseason trade with Denver. But there are questions about his attitude following a fallout with Broncos management and new coach Josh McDaniels.
His critics include former Bears coach Mike Ditka and former Indianapolis and Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy, one of Smith’s mentors. Smith, however, said Cutler has been a model teammate so far while denying any animosity with Urlacher.
“There’s no issue with Jay and Brian, except Brian and Jay are both excited about being teammates for our club this year,” coach Lovie Smith said. “No more than that. We can’t spend a whole lot of time on something that isn’t true. I have talked to the players. Whenever something comes out, you have to address it, but it’s a non-issue.”
In some ways, Cutler is getting a second chance in Chicago, an opportunity to repair his reputation.
Smith said another quarterback – Michael Vick – deserves one, although he doesn’t see it happening with the Bears, who lack an experienced backup. The former Atlanta Falcons star, who served a 23-month sentence for running a dogfighting ring, said Thursday he is getting close to signing with a pro football team.
“I think Mike deserves a second chance, like everyone in society who has paid their debt to society,” Smith said. “He deserves a second chance. As far as we’re concerned, we like this team that we have right now.”
Particularly the new quarterback.
“Me and Brian have been on a good relationship since I’ve been here, and I expect it to continue that way,” Cutler said.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.