When the Chicago Bears decided to release veteran defensive lineman Jeremiah Ratliff last week, it initially caused an uproar of confusion. But then the details started to come out about the heated exchange between him and general manager Ryan Pace and it started to make sense.
When it was reported that the exchange escalated to the point where the Bears needed security to escort Ratliff away from Halas Hall, and that the police were called in to monitor the situation, it was obvious there was more to the story.
We may never know the specifics about last weeks altercation, or what caused Ratliff to be in no condition to work, but it did drum up a previously unreported story from the 2014 season. Bears beat reporters talked about a similar blow up by Ratliff last year during the final week of the season.
The 2014 Chicago Bears season was disjointed on numerous levels. Players sniping with each other, coaches leaking stuff to the media, poor play, poor coaching and just a general lack of leadership during what ended up being the final year for both head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery.
Former CBSSports.com columnist Mike Freeman, who now writes for Bleacher Report, has more details about what happened last December 26th at Halas Hall.
In the last week of the season, on a Friday, according to a player who witnessed the entire incident, Ratliff showed up to practice and was behaving belligerently toward players and coaches. The coaching regime, then led by Marc Trestman, would not allow him to practice.
Ratliff went ballistic, this player said, and was asked to leave practice. He departed but later returned. Practice was stopped and most players went off to the side while a small group of players and coaches tried to calm Ratliff down and get him to leave.
It didn't work initially. Ratliff destroyed the game clock on the practice field, smashing it and kicking it. Later, he shoved an assistant coach to the ground. While all of this went on, Trestman never intervened. He just stood off to the side and watched.
And this is the most incredible part. The uber-enabling part. Not only was Ratliff never punished by Trestman...he was named one of the captains the next day. The entire locker room was incredulous.
Trestman justified making Ratliff a captain by saying he brought intensity, but no player bought that. That move, the player said, led to Trestman officially losing the locker room. Trestman was fired soon after.
I'd argue that Trestman lost the locker room well before the final week of the season, but regardless, it seems he was out of touch with his team.
EDIT: The police report is now available, click here.