Bounty-Gate Victim #StoryTimeWithEarl

Playing football is a brutal sport. There is no doubt about it. That’s what makes it football. The gridiron, where warriors done equipment to battle out for who’s the best. Unfortunately, injuries happen frequently. A brutal injury I faced happened week two against the New Orleans Saints in 2011. QB #1 would always tell me to be careful, because how I played the game made me a target. I never thought twice about that comment until after the play that could have possibly cost me my life.  The second drive of the game we began to click. RB #1 had a 42-yard run that would put us in excellent field position. Four plays later we align for a passing play. I scout …
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McCown for the Win #StoryTimeWithEarl

For me, the Chicago Bears 2013 season started off as a blur. A concussion that ended my preseason and a pay cut that docked $1 Million was not a great start. Though the season started off rocky, things picked up during week seven when QB #2 entered the game. There are some players who are prepared to play every single game. Who know the offense like the back of their hands. This was QB #2. When QB #1 went down there was no doubt we were in good hands, because QB #2 had been waiting on his moment.  Everyone in the organization knew I had taken a pay cut. All …
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Hurd Away #StoryTimeWithEarl

Before December 15, 2011, I was always greeted by a jovial WR #4 on my entrance into the locker room. On this particular day, he was not there. The warm and charming smile that radiated in the morning was nowhere to be found. The receiver group bounced around the facility in hopes of finding him to defer any fines he would receive for missing meetings. We checked the hot tub, swimming pool, the field and even the bathrooms. Still, we could not locate WR #4 so we proceeded to the team meeting room.  During the team meeting, Coach Lovie Smith did not address the situation. But, when we split into …
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Beast Mode Trade #StoryTimeWithEarl

In 2011, Chicago Bears RB #1 was in heated negotiations for a new contract. Not being elected to a pro-bowl, management considered his performance on the field not pro bowl level. Although everyone on the team knew he was the right fit for the team and the organization as well. The negotiations created heavy tension.  My agent, Doug Hendrickson, and I had been in negotiations on a new contract during the 2011 season too. We talked a lot during the season. On one particular occasion, he had a visitor in the office who wanted to speak with me. The visitor was RB #1 of the Seattle Seahawks. Seahawks RB#1 picks …
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The Puncher #StoryTimeWithEarl

There were always fights during training camps. That’s understandable when guys are vying for a roster spot and trying to provide for their families. But after the season starts, if people are still throwing blows, we have a significant problem. A problem that cannot be solved unless you change the culture, starting with the coach. A new coach and a change in the culture did not happen as expected. In the locker room, there are a ton of Alpha males. Guys that think they look good, dress well, are powerful and highly intelligent. That was the makeup of the 2013 Chicago Bears locker room. A new offensive scheme against a …
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Man Down #StoryTimeWithEarl

December 18th, 2011 will forever be etched in the brain. Injuries began to riddle the team with QB #1 breaking his hand, and the team rallied behind QB#2. The team was on a three-game losing streak and looking to stay in the playoff hunt.  The down was third, and distance was six on own six-yard line. The play comes in from the sideline. We rush to the line of scrimmage and get set. I had a return route, a six-yard out then back under. WR #1 had a Bang 8 (post) route. We break the huddle and get aligned. WR #1 had a long-distance route, so he was on the …
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Thumbs Up #StoryTimeWithEarl

My playing days with the Bears granted me the opportunity to play with Hall of Famers. Notably, on the defensive side. LB#1 already being inducted, LB#2 on the way and of course DE #1.  Future Hall of Fame DE #1 was very quiet. He kept to himself and spoke mostly in joking manners. His ability to connect with players without really talking was always a cool thing to see. Safe to say he was introverted. Playing with him and getting to see his athletic abilities on display daily was indeed a treat. That was until the day came where we would meet in the first-team offense vs first team defense. …
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When a Silent Coach Speaks #StoryTimeWithEarl

Lovie Smith is known for his calm demeanor. His bright smile and nomad beard highlight his facial features. These traits can be misleading — the warm and charming smile with a smooth and swift head nod to avoid any conversation. But, after one particular game Coach, Smith asked to speak with me.  After watching the NFC Championship Game limp off the field and a 300-pound sumo dancing defensive tackle in the end zone to close out the 2010-11 NFL season. There were high expectations for the 2011-12 NFL Season. The offense and defense were returning starters, and this was the second season for Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz. Spirits were high …
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“Nonstop” #StoryTimeWithEarl

The offseason 2014, my agents CJ Laboy and Doug Henderickson knew a change was coming. After taking a million dollar pay cut and earning back half in 2013, we figured they would ask the same or release me. My mindset was to do what was best for my family and career whether it was playing in Chicago or elsewhere. After speaking to team officials in late February, they assured my agent that I was a part of the 2014 season plans.  Fast forward to March 18th, and I received a call asking me to take a pay cut or be released. I wondered if I would have the same language …
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