I really enjoyed the piece that Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune did on defensive tackle Tommie Harris who has apparently gained perspective as he struggles to perform with knee and leg injuries:
“He returned to the starting lineup last Sunday against the Patriots for the first time since Sept. 19, the week before he was a healthy scratch against the Packers. The Bears are trying to squeeze something out of the $40 million extension they gave Harris in June 2008, which some in the organization didn’t support because of health concerns.
“‘It’s the same,’ Harris said of replacing Matt Toeaina. ‘It’s the same amount of plays. It’s just another number starting off the game.
“‘I’m past that point. That’s something that would have got me years ago. I just want to play football, and any opportunity that is given, I’ll take it.'”
But the truly revealing thing about Harris is highlighted in a fan question which Dan Pompei, also at the Tribune, answered:
“Why is Jay Cutler such a jerk to Bears fans? I’ve seen the team twice this year the day before a game on the road at their hotel and the only player on the whole team who refused to sign anything for fans both times was Cutler. I even saw little kids wearing his jersey hoping for an autograph or picture with their hero who were greeted with a, “It’s not happening,” by the surly QB. Is Jay a jerk to you writers on a daily basis? Why would he be this way to a group of fans who want to love him and for him to do well? By the way, the anti-Cutler among Bears players when it comes to fan-friendliness is Tommie Harris. About a dozen times I saw fans interrupt Tommie while he was sitting down and talking with friends and family for a picture or autograph and he would get up and oblige happily every time. Tommie never refused anything for any Bears fan that I saw, including myself. Even though he might not be a truly great player anymore, it’s nice to know that he’s a great person, which is more important in the long run. Kim Moy, Warren, Mich.
“I haven’t seen Cutler interact with fans much, so I really couldn’t comment on that. But I can tell you he has very little patience for doing things he has no interest in. One of those things is dealing with the media.”
It nice to know that this fan also recognizes what is most important in the long run. You can be a Jay Cutler with all the talent in the world and still not be the man that players like Harris and former Bears and current Redskins starting quarterback Rex Grossman are. In the end – in the very end – its character that counts.