(CBS) After new Bears coach John Fox made clear at his introductory press conference that he wants to “make things right” with retired star linebacker Brian Urlacher, the latter expressed optimism Friday that the sides can mend a fractured relationship.
Urlacher and the Bears had an ugly parting of ways after the 2012 season when they couldn’t agree on terms of a contract. To this day, he’s still fond of many of the individuals at Halas Hall — from the players to the video crew to the training staff and more — and he’d like to stay in touch.
Which is why he was happy to hear Fox’s comments.
“What Foxy was saying was he wants me to feel comfortable back into the building again,” Urlacher said on the Spiegel and Mannelly Show on Friday. “That’s the way I read it. I haven’t talked to him. I’ve known him for 10, 12 years now. We’ve been around each other a bunch of times. But I think that’s what he meant. People are like, ‘You’re going to come back and coach? You’re going to come back and play?’ I said, ‘No one asked me or told me I was doing either of those things.’ But I think that’s what he meant (welcome back) when he said what he said in his interview.
“I just miss being around those guys every day.”
Urlacher was clear in that his main beef was with former general manager Phil Emery, who was fired in December and replaced by Ryan Pace.
“I didn’t like the way he handled my situation or other situations around there with players,” Urlacher said. “I didn’t like the way he acted sometimes. I just didn’t feel comfortable being in the building when he was around. I’m a huge fan of the McCaskeys. I’ve always said that, I’ve never quit saying that, I’m going to keep saying it. There’s one guy I had a problem with, and he happened to be the guy that was everyone’s boss. And I think he had more problems than just drafting, by the way. I’m just going to stop there with his issues. Not to beat a dead horse or anything.”
Urlacher then shared his view on how his contract negotiations were handled.
“If he came to me,” Urlacher said, “and said, ‘Hey man, look, we don’t think you’re the same.’ Which I wasn’t the same player. After my knee got hurt, I was a little bit slower and older, I agree. But I still wanted to play. I feel like I still could’ve played another year. After rehab on my knee, I probably could’ve played one or two more years. If he just said, ‘Hey man, you’re not the same player. You know that. We know that, but we still want you here, you’re a good leader, blah, blah, blah, you’re a team guy, this and that, but we can’t pay you more than this, but we want you here, can you do it?’ Hell yeah I can do it if he handled it like that. A hundred percent I can do it.
“But the way it was handled was ‘This is the offer, take it or leave it, you have until tonight to decide. You don’t want it, we’ll get somebody else.’ And then it was tweeted out right when (I) said no.”
Click here to listen to the full interview, as Urlacher also discusses the Bears’ likely shift to a 3-4 defense and why he sees some hope for linebacker Shea McClellin still under a new staff.