Nothing heralds spring like sunshine, blooming flowers, and NFL rants about former teams.
Former Bears manager David Montgomery (now with Detroit) was among the many players who attended the annual ceremony recently. He said on the Lions’ gaming channel that the Bears’ heavy losses over the past few years have taken a heavy toll.
“It was all I was used to,” he said. “And I’m a competitor, so it’s gotten to the point where the fun of the game is gone. I like to compete. That’s football. It’s so refreshing to be in a place where that’s valued.”
There’s no question that the Bears lost a lot during Montgomery’s four seasons in Chicago, where he went 25-41. Last season was particularly bad, with a 3-14 record that earned the Bears the No. 1 pick in the draft, which was eventually acquired in a trade. During reconstruction, what is bad for one person becomes good for another.
But Montgomery misses the Bears’ real problem. It’s not that organizations don’t value winning and competing at a high level. It’s that the organization doesn’t know how to win, down to the marrow of its bones. Over the years, I’ve spoken about the incompetence of ownership many times, but I’ve never suggested that ownership doesn’t want to win. Chairman George McCuskey’s priorities may be skewed toward building stadiums and telling history, but he understands that the name of the game is winning the Super Bowl. The problem is that he just doesn’t seem to know how to do it. Seven playoff appearances in the last 31 years are proof of that. So does the march of hired and fired coaches.
It’s natural to wonder why Montgomery didn’t voice his grievances when he was a Bear, even out loud. If it’s worth talking about now, it should have been worth talking about when the team was trying hard to do a terrible job. It would actually be a plus. Imagine a player who ran as hard as Montgomery lashed out publicly for taking away the fun of the game. Chicago would have loved him. Not much ownership and coaching staff. But who cares? Competitors who tell it as it is. Please deal with it.
But give Montgomery this: He turned down the Bears’ contract offer to move to Detroit. Losing accelerated the transfer. The Lions welcomed him with open arms. Or at least he has one open arm. They used their other arm to pick up Alabama running back Jermyl Gibbs in the first round of the draft. It’s a tough business, but left alone, it can take away even more of your enjoyment from the game.
Montgomery isn’t the only one to cast a shadow over his former team. Giants’ new tight end Darren Waller recently had a not-so-subtle shot against the Raiders, with whom he had a sometimes-controversial relationship during his five-year tenure with the team.
“Yeah, they respect our opinion here,” Waller said during the Giants’ OTA. “As a player, a lot of places I’ve been to feel like I’m told to do things a certain way and I’m doing it. But here they seem to ask a lot of questions. They want to know what you think and what you want to do more of.”
Apparently, it’s really, really important that the tight end has an opinion in the decision-making process. does he want to block today? no? So now is probably a bad time to ask him to run a decoy route. How about some tea on the veranda? i like it?
We can see where this collegial approach is headed. At some point, the coaching staff will be interested in the kicker’s perspective. Then you will know that the end times have come.
Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams recently raised eyebrows when he declared that he and his team “didn’t agree” on the offense. But he later said that despite his own criticisms, “I never felt urged to speak up and make my feelings known to the organization, like[coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler]did. Never,” he said.
In summary, the Raiders are either blocks of ice (Waller) or warm embraces (Adams).
It probably won’t surprise you that ESPN reported on tensions between Waller and the Raiders. My favorite part of the story is the following detail.
“In particular, it was at issue that Waller left during the bye week to propose to Las Vegas ace star Kelsey Plum rather than to rehab and did not explain to the team where he was going.”
Waller seems to have been unable to convey his position because he valued the coaches’ opinions. Considering he was on the team’s payroll, they’re probably worth knowing. oh well. He is said to have moved on and moved to a happier place.
At this point.