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Forte's messy situation proves why NFL players need guaranteed deals

by | National NFL Insider
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Bears running back Matt Forte has carried the ball 1,237 times in four years. (US Presswire)  
Bears running back Matt Forte has carried the ball 1,237 times in four years. (US Presswire)  

You are Matt Forte. You are, for the moment, confused. You are also angry. It's understandable. Your team is selling you out.

The Bears asked you to touch the ball some 1,200 times because you were versatile and good and didn't complain about the sometimes crappy offensive line that opened holes as thick as a sliver of cheese.

No one is going to feel sorry for a football player who makes millions of dollars while the anemic economy destroys lives and careers. But football is different. It's always been different. The normal rules don't apply just like they don't to actors. So in football's insular world, Forte is getting screwed.

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If you want to understand why NFL players never, ever trust management or why they hold out, look at the Forte case. If you really want to know why the union constantly fights management, look at Forte. If you want to understand why NFL players not receiving guaranteed contracts is practically criminal, again, Forte.

It's almost comical. The Bears run Forte into the ground and then leak to the media they're concerned about giving Forte a long-term deal because of concerns over his knee. What the Bears are doing is like a guy running up his credit card bill buying lap dances and Gummi Bears and then blaming Visa.

Look closely at that Bears team. The defense has been solid but not great. The quarterback situation, in recent years, has been erratic. Bears receivers? Mostly just OK. It's Forte who has been the one constant threat (Devin Hester doesn't touch the ball enough to be on Forte's threat level). He's carried this Bears team.

Forte isn't the biggest or the strongest or the fastest back but he's among the most versatile. He became the first Bears runner to make the Pro Bowl since 1991 doing so by being as big a pass-catching threat as he is a running one. Strictly in terms of versatility only Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy are better.

The Bears sucked the life out of Forte and that's what they should have done. Don't feel sorry for him but then the Bears, immersed in a contract squabble, repaid Forte's loyalty with a nice piece of nastiness.

The team recently leaked it was concerned Forte's knees might not hold up for the long term. It's one thing to be concerned about handing Forte a multi-year deal instead of the one-year tender but it's another to undercut your star player who has been nothing but loyal.

Again, it's Chicago's right to let Forte walk. It's also fair to privately wonder if previously sprained knee ligaments will be any sort of future impediment but it's dirty pool to leak those concerns to the media anonymously as a way of trying to injure Forte's earning potential. The Bears weren't concerned about Forte's durability when they were running those knees into the turf.

Forte was so angered by what the Bears did he released a video of him training by pulling a sled holding 100 pounds up a hill. Shouldn't have to come to something like that.

"Matt Forte is among the most, if not the most, durable, all-purpose running back in the NFL," Forte's agent, Adisa Bakari told the Chicago Sun-Times. "The 2011 season was the first season of his career that he missed any games. Had the Bears been playoff contenders, he could have returned for the balance of the season. To question his durability at this stage in his career is absurd." And hypocritical.

You are Matt Forte. You are, for the moment, confused. You are also angry. It's understandable. Your team is selling you out.

After riding you into the ground.

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