By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – When the Bears arrived at Halas Hall on Friday morning, they assumed last week’s Jeremiah Ratliff incident and ensuring release was a thing of the past. While details were still murky, it was a surprising episode that was behind them.READ MORE: 'Don't Test Us': Chicago's Mayor Lightfoot On Plans After Chauvin Verdict
Players were unaware that Ratliff, a team captain, claimed he was “the devil,” that he “felt like killing everyone in the building” and that he “wished staff members’ children would die,” as the police report released Friday morning stated. His outburst toward general manager Ryan Pace wasn’t made clear at the time.
As of Monday, one player whose phone was shut off for the bye week was completely unaware of the incident. He only knew that Ratliff was cut.
News of Ratliff’s threats came as a complete shock to Bears players at Halas Hall on Friday.
“Wow,” Bears linebacker Lamarr Houston said. “That’s interesting, whoever made that report. I hope they have their information correct, because it doesn’t sound like him.”
The Bears viewed Ratliff as a good teammate. He was instrumental in the growth of young players like Eddie Goldman and Will Sutton, while serving as a reliable veteran presence for others.
Many Bears remain close with Ratliff. Martellus Bennett had reached out to Ratliff after the incident in a private conversation.
“The thing about Rat, he’s a great guy,” Bears defensive end Jarvis Jenkins said. “You can say what you want about him. One of the best veterans I’ve been around, as far as helping younger guys, helping older guys. We’re going to miss him.”
Pressed for details to the Bears’ handling of Ratliff’s outburst, coach John Fox had little to say. He was on the practice field with his team at the time of Ratliff’s threats in front of the building.READ MORE: Derek Chauvin Verdict: U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, Other Illinois Congress Members Weigh In; 'An Important First Acknowledgment Of Illegal Police Conduct'
Fox couldn’t answer directly to why the Bears weren’t more transparent in response to Ratliff’s threats, though he did back the organization’s handling of the ordeal.
“I’m a football coach,” Fox said. “I’m not a psychologist. We evaluated the situation and we did what is best for our football team.”
Questions about the Bears’ lack of transparency weren’t answered Friday, even in light of greater, more troubling details being made available. Requests to speak with Pace weren’t fulfilled, and Fox was the highest level of authority to speak, doing so without extensive detail.
Ratliff wasn’t arrested by Lake Forest police in connection with the incident, though there’s plenty of precedent for that when making death threats.
Ratliff has a troubled history with outbursts. He had an ugly exit from the Dallas Cowboys, including a confrontation with owner Jerry Jones. He was removed from Marc Trestman’s last practice in 2014 after shoving an assistant and was involved in a heated fight with center Will Montgomery in training camp, one in which he was so overwhelmed with anger, Fox was forced to end practice.
Asked about Ratliff’s past, Fox claimed that he didn’t view these as red flags to character flaws. The Bears operated this season by viewing Ratliff’s anger as passion, not a potential endangerment to the organization.
But Ratliff, 34, unleashed a terrifying scene of threats, which will most likely mark the end of his career.
“My concern for him is that he’s able to move forward and not let this hinder the rest of his life,” Houston said. “He’s very young, has a lot of life to live. You just hope that this one incident doesn’t deter his life from where it was headed.”MORE NEWS: Mayor Lightfoot Says Justice Has Been Served As Derek Chauvin Is Convicted On All Counts In Death Of George Floyd
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.