Jerry Angelo wants us to believe he isn’t a liar, merely an occasional (and accidental) omitter of facts. Semantics, semantics.
Jerry Angelo wants us to believe he isn’t a liar, merely an occasional (and accidental) omitter of facts.
One man’s fib is another’s creative portrayal of the truth, right?
Sure. And one NFL general manager’s first-round treasure often is another’s draft bust.
Angelo, the Chicago Bears’ beleaguered GM, knows all about first-round flops. Marc Colombo ... Michael Haynes ... Rex Grossman ... Cedric Benson.
And now ... Chris Williams? It’s too early to judge this year’s top pick but not too early to fear the worst.
Unlike Colombo, Haynes, Grossman and Benson, the new guy still might have a long, successful Chicago career. Nevertheless, the offensive tackle from Vanderbilt already is pretty much a write-off for this season after undergoing surgery for a herniated disc.
Though Williams’ back issues began years ago - problems dismissed by Angelo on draft day as normal “wear and tear” - the GM’s integrity began aching Sunday after the rookie told reporters:
“I had a herniated disc before I got here. We knew that. Everyone knew that. It wasn’t affecting me. Then something happened in practice that second day (of training camp), the disc started moving and that caused some problems.”
Not always as dopey as we sometimes appear, we media mopes quickly put 2 and 2 together and came up with, “What the hey?”
For two weeks, the Bears called Williams’ problem muscular. Finally, even after fessing up to the bulging disc, they insisted it was a “new injury,” unrelated to anything Williams had experienced at Vandy. Angelo was quoted as saying: “He had no symptoms of any kind of herniation when that (college) injury occurred.”
With Williams debunking that claim Sunday, the Bears set their damage-control machine on full spin cycle.
Yeah, well, he did have a herniated disc before ... and the same disc was herniating this time ... but it was, um, different herniation in a different part of the disc ... and, well, this is crucial to understand: It was a NEW injury!
New! New! New! All new! Brand spankin’ new!
It even still had that new-injury smell!!!
Angelo ordered his lackeys to set up a telephone conference with newspaper beat writers. The Bears even made trainer Tim Bream available, something they just about never do.
Anything to escape the perception that: 1, Angelo lied; and B, he spent the 14th-overall draft pick on damaged goods with plenty of other highly-rated tackles available.
(Several teams had dropped Williams down on their draft boards. Others, like the Bears, were less concerned.)
“Nobody was trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes,” Angelo said. “Nobody is covering their (bleep).”
He certainly wasn’t covering his (bleep) very well.
Getting increasingly agitated (and increasingly potty-mouthed), Angelo said: “Nobody is twisting the truth or embellishing it. I could give a (bleep). I could give a (bleep). If we screwed up, I would tell you, ‘We screwed up.’ Hey, if we said this was 50-50 and we just rolled the dice, I would tell you that.
“We don’t want to get into these witch hunts, OK? I’d like to think that we operate credibly.”
And I’d like to think that I look like Orlando Bloom and that I bought the winning Powerball ticket, but my mirror and bank account can’t twist or embellish the truth.
For argument’s sake - no accusations here, folks - let’s just say Angelo was fibbing. Don’t teams lie about injuries all the time, protecting their players by preventing opponents from knowing specifics?
Hmmm. By acknowledging the disc problem while emphasizing its newness, Angelo mostly seemed to be trying to protect himself from critics who have the temerity to question his first-round drafting acumen.
OK, but does this particular little lie - if, of course, it were a lie because, you know, this isn’t a witch hunt - really hurt anybody?
I mean, don’t most Bears fans care more about the team’s inexplicable lack of defensive intensity than about the GM’s alleged lack of integrity?
Probably, but nobody likes being lied to (or even accidentally fact-omitted to.) Moreover, those who buy personal seat licenses, beer, tickets, beer, jerseys, beer, foam fingers and beer pay Angelo’s salary. So do those who watch the beloved Bears on TV.
They have the right to know if the GM in their employ has a clue.
Mike Nadel (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service. Read his blog, The Baldest Truth, at www.thebaldesttruth.com.