Via ESPNChicago.com, I heard most of the brief news conference Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo held Friday to announce the inevitable and highly warranted decision to waive receiver Sam Hurd. What caught my ear more than anything, however, was Angelo's snappy response when asked if this episode will impact his future with the organization.
"Whistling Dixie," is what it sounded like Angelo said. In other words, you're in fantasy land.
I wonder, however, how Hurd's arrest will weigh on a lifelong football man who never imagined that the acquisition of a No. 5 receiver and special teams contributor would blow up into one of the most embarrassing moments in recent franchise history. By all accounts, Hurd was a well-respected member of the Dallas Cowboys for five seasons and there were few, if any, people around the NFL who would have suspected him of operating a drug distribution ring that undercover federal investigators busted Wednesday night in Chicago.
Angelo downplayed reports this month that he might retire after the season. There are times when sports franchises and private businesses alike oust their top executives at times of extreme crisis, but I don't think this qualifies. If the Bears fire Angelo because he signed a veteran NFL player with no prior history who was later revealed to be a drug dealer, well, that would be a tough blow.
Angelo said Friday that there were "no facts" and "no flags" that "anyone can present tangibly" that would suggest the Bears should have been aware of Hurd's alleged secret life. "We do our homework," Angelo said. "We do our due diligence and we did everything we could possibly do given the information that we can accumulate."
But when you think back just over the past year or so, you recall Angelo explaining a bizarre miscommunication that left tailback Chester Taylor believing he had been released when in fact he was expected at practice. You think of Angelo denying any wrongdoing when a draft-day trade with the Baltimore Ravens broke down without the Ravens realizing it.
Angelo is 62. He has two years remaining on his contract, but you wonder if the Hurd episode is enough to push him over the edge and at least consider retirement. His brief but fierce defense Friday suggested it won't. But perhaps he was the one whistling "Dixie" on that one.