Since Matt Forte left the Bears in free agency to join the New York Jets, not much has been heard from him.
This should hardly come as a surprise to Bears fans because throughout his career Forte has been a quiet guy, often staying out of the limelight and just going about his business.
Even when speaking with the media or doing fan meet and greets, he came across as soft-spoken.
Part of that keeping his head down and showing up on Sundays is what endeared him to many Bears fans. He was always productive, known as a good teammate and rarely showing up in bad headlines.
Now that he’s in the tabloid spotlight of New York few would have expected much to change and so far it hasn’t.
Forte is so non-controversial that even a public appearance last week went under-reported.
Pro-Football Weekly wrote up a piece about Forte doing an interview with a church in St. Charles, Ill. as part of a weekend summit-type thing.
Forte, a strong man of faith as his Twitter will attest, spoke about his Christianity, as well as the business of football.
From PFW’s Jacob Bartelson:
“There’s no loyalty anyway because they don’t care about the player specifically," Forte shared with executive pastor Eric Rojas Saturday night at Christ Community Church in St. Charles, Illinois, as a guest interviewee as part of the church's "WOW Weekend". "They care about the team. No matter how strong the ties are between the player and the team.
"You’re always just a jersey number,”
He also talked about Brandon Marshall, a one-time teammate of his in Chicago with whom he’s been reunited in the Big Apple. The interesting thing here is Forte talks about trying to hold Marshall accountable, but does not go in to great detail about when this was:
“I constantly hold him accountable and same thing with me,” Forte said of Marshall. “If I see him say something or do something, I’m like, 'That’s out of character of you, Brandon.' We talk about it in private, and things get handled that way like men.”
Forte told the story of calling the embattled wide receiver on the phone one day, and telling him, “Brandon, you didn’t really hold yourself accountable at the same time."
"He didn’t really like that," Forte recalled.
Could Forte have been trying to keep the Machine Marshall train on the tracks when it began derailing in 2014? We may never know, but Forte also spoke about his former QB Jay Cutler and defended him against the unfair criticism he receives:
"I feel bad for him because the cameras are constantly on him," Forte said. "They show his body language, and I mean, if you look on the sideline and something goes bad, everybody's body language is that way. He's the quarterback. He's the one in the spotlight.
"In the media, that's the thing to pick on. That's the thing that sells papers, so that's what they're gonna pick on. That's what they're gonna write about no matter what he says.
"I've seen him grow from when he came in, it was my second year, all the way till now. He has kids, family, married – all that stuff, so he's grown a lot. And, his personality has changed a lot over the years."
Forte should be more than qualified to speak about Cutler, they played together in Chicago for seven seasons, more than Cutler and Marshall played together combined between Denver and Chicago.
Most fans understand that Cutler gets criticized for the wrong things, often and that the narrative on him hasn’t properly shifted a lot of times since 2009 despite there being fair criticism of his game and on-field play versus his off-field “persona” or sideline behavior.
The last quote that jumped out to me most is when Forte was speaking about Marshall. He says he told his outspoken teammate to let go of “bitterness.” What could he be talking about?
“...when you hold bitterness in your heart, you're the only one that gets hurt because the other person – they've forgotten about it," Forte said. "But, you're still holding on to that, and so it keeps you from growing. It keeps you from going forward, and you're staying in the same place stuck in the mud because you're bitter."
Could Forte have been advising Marshall to let go of any lingering animosity between he and Cutler?
Forte will be missed inside the locker room this season and if Jeremy Langford or rookie Jordan Howard do not impress they could miss the franchise’s second-all-time leading rusher both on and off field.