It’s easy to write off a guy trying to milk more money out of his franchise.
The terms “greedy,” “selfish” and “egotistical” often get tossed around. Unfortunately, contentious nature of the proceedings often also manifest themselves in the players who are seeking out more money lashing out at fellow players, coaches and fans – ruining relationships that had been otherwise solid up to that point.
That’s precisely the situation Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte finds himself in. He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place right now because he legitimately deserves more money than he’s making but, at the same time, the franchise is just unwilling to commit.
As we’ve reported on Opposing Views, Chris Johnson’s awful year after getting a big raise from the Tennessee Titans has left a bad taste in Chicago's mouth.
Forte has already made his displeasure with his the contract situation felt, and it’s left many wondering what this means for the rest of the team. Currently, Forte makes up over 40 percent of the offensive yardage output that Chicago leaves on the field every Sunday. If he slows up for any reason, the reverberations will be felt all over – on both the offensive and defensive ends.
And that’s probably why team leader and defensive superstar, Brian Urlacher, has decided to weigh in. When pressed on what Forte’s contract is doing to the team, the tough-as-nails Urlacher managed to show both compassion and understanding.
"We try not to get into it," Urlacher said Thursday on "Mike and Mike In The Morning" on ESPN Radio. "It's hard, because Matt is so well-liked around here. He's obviously a great player, but he's a good guy. He's been a good guy since he's been here.
"You like to see guys like that taken care of, especially when you draft him. The Bears drafted him, he's done well here. You like to see him taken care of. That's what's so disappointing. You see guys do well in this system and the teams that drafted them, don't take care of them."
That kind of solidarity between the players, even if they play for different units, will go a long ways for team morale. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and stay quiet when it’s not your battle to be fighting, and that’s why Urlacher sticking up for his teammate means so much.
"I'm sure it will get done, obviously later than sooner," Urlacher said. "He's been a great player for us and I definitely think he deserves a big contract. He's played up to those standards right now. In my mind he's the best running back in the NFL right now. There's no doubt about that."
As we’ve pointed out, Chicago’s position in all this is perfectly understandable. How many teams do you have to watch get burned by giving running backs big contracts before you learn your lesson? The powers that be for the Bears are running a business – and they’re leaving all emotion and sentimentality at the door as it applies to Forte.
That’s all well and good. But it doesn’t detract from what Urlacher is doing either. He’s making sure one of his guys knows that the team is behind him. That, even in rough waters, Forte always has teammates he can turn to.
If the Bears can move past this dispute, the ground that they’re making here amongst the players will pay dividends in the future.
How will everything that’s transpired this week off the field affect the team on it? Tune in this Monday when the Bears take on the Philadelphia Eagles to find out.