This offseason, two-time Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte signed a three-year $12-million-dollar free agent contract with the New York Jets. Bears fans were, and still are, upset about it.
And why wouldn’t they be?
After eight years in Chicago, Forte ranks second, behind only Hall of Famer Walter Payton, on the Bears’ all-time lists for rushing yards, yards from scrimmage (12,718), receptions (487) and 100-yard games (24). He’s also third in total touchdowns and sixth in receiving yards (4,116).
This offseason, the Bears front office didn’t even attempt to re-sign the second most productive player in the history of the franchise.
Didn’t even attempt.
Instead, they informed him in February they would not be offering him a contract. No negotiating. No ifs, ands, or buts. Didn’t Forte at least deserve that? Or, at the “bear” minimum, the ability to fight for his job?
Let’s look at this parting of the ways through the eyes of a real world (if the movie Office Space counts as the real world), corporate boss/employee relationship, and not through the NFL lens of meaningless sound bites and coach speak.
Imagine you get to the office Monday morning. The first thing on your calendar for the week is your annual review with your boss, Bill Lumbergh. You were dreading it all weekend.
You’re the face of Initech (Bears offense) and you’re coming off a fiscal year where profits were way down (6-10 record) and the competition improved (worst in NFC North).
In Lumbergh’s office, things are tense. He insinuates you are old (you’re 30 now, death knell for NFL running backs), that your TPS Report problem (nagging knee injuries) persists. He hired a 24-year-old hotshot out of college (Jeremy Langford) a year ago and you mentored him. Maybe toowell. But don’t worry – you won’t get any credit for that.
Lumbergh then tells you that he doesn’t see you as a part of the organization’s future. And that frankly, “The Bobs” (Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey and her sons) don’t even want to pay you what you’re currently making. Worse, they won’t even offered a pay cut to do what you’ve been doing at Initech for the last eight years!
So, with the role of Lumburgh played by Bears’ GM Ryan Pace, how did Forte feel about it? Slighted? Angry? Underappreciated?
In the above video, I talked to Matt about his new partnership with Verizon, his playing career in Chicago and if he felt he was treated fairly and if it feels weird to not be a employee of Initech, err, the Chicago Bears anymore.