Tommie Harris Over Alex Brown: Decision Chicago Bears Regret

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer ISeptember 28, 2010

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears awaits the start of play against the Detroit Lions during the NFL season opening game at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 19-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

During the offseason, there was much gnashing of teeth over the decision to release defensive end Alex Brown. Many Bear fans rationalized this by considering Brown a trade for newly-signed, pass rusher extraordinaire, Julius Peppers.

What we now know that we didn't know then is the Bears needed to trim payroll following their free agent splurge. That decision probably could have been avoided if they had done one simple thing.

Not pay Tommie Harris a $2.5 million roster bonus in June.

At the time the Bears hoped the declining and oft-injured Harris was finally healthy and Mark Anderson would bounce back to his rookie form.


On Monday night, the Bears benched Harris. This was despite general manager Jerry Angelo's statement after the Packers game that Harris is healthy.

If Harris is healthy it certainly isn't obvious by his play in the first two games of the season.

The former Pro Bowler has only one tackle, two quarterback hits, and one fumble recovery. The question no longer is whether he is hurt but whether he is bad. So the Bears collective brain trust decided to make the Bears defensive tackle inactive Monday against the Packers.

Apparently there is a changing of the mindset of this coaching staff. If you don't play well, you don't play.

The benching of both Harris and Zack Bowman were described as "coach's decisions." Allow me to describe them as "no brainers."

Bowman missed a tackle so he also missed a game. But he will be back. We can't say the same for Harris.

For this is the same Tommie Harris benched for one game last year and who was suspended for a game in 2008 because of detrimental conduct.

The difference this year is that he can't hide his lethargic play behind the excuse of injury. What does the future hold for Harris?

How about a pink slip? If so, too bad that rejection notice hadn't come before the season and before he was paid that roster bonus. Not because it's my money, mind you, but because it cost the Bears more than dollars.

It cost them Alex Brown, who would have looked nice opposite Peppers instead of what they have now.

If let go, there will be teams interested in taking a flier on him. In hope a change of scenery will be a wake-up call.

Don't bet your house on it. Perhaps the Bears are thinking the same thing and will give him another chance to prove himself. Bear in mind the decision to sack Harris came despite the team not having a young superstar in line, waiting at the position.

Matt Toeina started in his place. He may be hungrier than Harris but the jury is out as to whether he is better than Harris.

But then again, I don't know if they lose anything with Harris out of the rotation. Except it's some expensive laundry they are washing.

Tommie Harris makes $7.79 million this season. That's a lot of scratch for a scratch. Harris has been getting paid for nothing ever since he signed that contract extension in 2008.

The trio of Toeina, Henry Melton, and Marcus Harrison will likely never collectively match the career of Harris, but the team will likely end up releasing Harris and get nothing for him.

Of course, that will be too late to get Brown back. But sometimes subtraction is addition.

Warren Sapp recently called Tommie Harris, "a blind dog in a meathouse." Now he's on his way to the outhouse.


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