Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
You won't find a classier man on Chicago's roster than Desmond Clark, a locker room pillar -- and a pretty productive tight end -- for the past six seasons.
So it shouldn't be any surprise that Clark handled an offseason demotion with dignity. When Bears coaches made the decision to elevate Greg Olsen as the team's No. 1 tight end, Clark knew it would lead to less playing time and was the first step toward the end of his career. He also accepted that coaches weren't planning to give him a chance to compete for his job.
And during an interview with reporters this week, Clark deftly demonstrated how to be gracious and competitive at the same time. Here's an excerpt:
How and when were you informed about the depth chart change?
Desmond Clark: It was actually a long time ago. I've been knowing this since March, since the first minicamp. I think my coach struggled with it more than I probably struggled with it because he didn't know how to tell me. He's just like, 'Greg is going to be No. 1 and you're going to be No. 2.' But like they explained it to me, it wasn't a thing where I was just relegated to the bench. Because we do use a two-tight end offense a lot. My role would be slightly different but not that much different.
Why wouldn't they just let you compete with Olsen for No. 1?
DC: Don't know, didn't ask. I can't say I didn't care, but that's the decision that they made. And hey, they get paid to make those decisions. My role is to come out here and play football.
Coming off a good season, you must have wondered if there was anything else you could have done.
DC: That's one of the things that coach told me. I couldn't look at it as a thing where my production was slipping or something or like that. This is how I looked at it: You've got two tight ends. One is up-and-coming, and one in a few years will be seeing his way out of the league. So they had to make the decision: Who are they going to go for the future? That's how I rationalize it for myself and Greg is the future here, so that's the choice that they made.